Creating a Culture of Feedback: 5 Strategies for Survey Consistency from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Paterson & Passaic

Today’s post is from Catherine Vowell, a member of our FAVORITE Planning & Measurement team here at BGCA. Have you started administering NYOI yet?????

Do your members know why their Club is participating in the National Youth Outcomes Initiative (NYOI) survey?  If they don’t – it could be impacting your results.  The same holds true for your staff – if they don’t value the process, neither will your members.  People buy in to WHY they should do something, not the how or what.  This is especially true for kids and teens.

Recently, I had the honor of visiting with Wendy Maguire, the new CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Paterson & Passaic, to discuss how her staff and members view NYOI.  In 2018 she personally went to each of the organization’s Clubs to administer the survey.  Although the importance of the survey was clearly defined, not everyone understood the purpose.  Looking back, she regrets not taking more time to plan and prepare.  She was not pleased with the process or the general feeling surrounding the survey.

With a focus on collecting the most valid and reliable feedback possible, Wendy is going into the 2019 NYOI dedicated to cultivating a culture of feedback.  Starting with her staff, Wendy is working to ensure they know why their Clubs are participating while sharing her perspective that feedback is a gift.  Her next step is to engage the youth and teens at the Clubs.  They need to believe that the staff at the Club want their honest feedback, so that their Club can realize its full potential and be the best possible place for them and their friends.  The survey is meant to serve as a tool for improvement, and with questions about member outcomes, it can also be used to enhance program planning at the Club.

A good understanding of NYOI by the Club community is the foundation for success, but it takes more to ensure quality data. Consistency with survey administration also contributes to the quality of results. Does the survey procedure produce the same results with repeated trials?  The Paterson & Passaic sites are implementing the following strategies to help build consistency:

  • Ensure all Site Directors attend the Survey Success webinar (available at, and then train their staff on survey protocol. All staff administering the survey need to understand the purpose, process, and new platform.  Each staff member at each Club will follow the same protocol with each group of youth surveyed.
  • Set a goal of 100% of average daily attendance for the number of youth participating in the survey. All members don’t need to take the survey, but in order to obtain a representative sample, each Club should survey at least as many members as its ADA among 9-18 year olds, including members who attend the Club frequently and those who attend infrequently.
  • Put survey dates on the Club calendar and work across programs to incorporate the NYOI survey into Club activities. Each Club is at BGC Paterson & Passaic is also making plans for how to build excitement in the Club during the survey window.
  • Create a ‘reset button’ for youth to tap before they go into the computer lab to take the survey. This can allow members to try to leave the stress of the school day behind and have a fresh start and clear mind when taking the survey.  Each small group is also going to start with a community builder before the kids log in to the survey.
  • Debrief with members after the survey. Staff at each Club will allow time for reflection and find out more ways they can improve the survey experience.

Based on the conversation with Wendy, it is clear the whole team at Paterson & Passaic has a renewed energy and purpose this survey season.  There is a commitment to building a culture of feedback.

Thank you to all involved for your commitment to encouraging our kids to provide open, honest and direct feedback.  Together, we can make our Clubs a life changing experience for our youth.

For our other posts about NYOI, including more tips for administration, celebrating with youth, and continuing to gather feedback throughout the year with Pulse Checks, check the NYOI category here on the ClubX Blog.

What are your best tips for explaining the importance of NYOI? How do you make sure that survey results are consistent? Comment below, on the BGCA Facebook page, or email us at to share!




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