Reading on mobile phones

As a grantee of Omidyar Network, we were given the opportunity to have Lean Data, a data service created by Acumen, conduct a free external evaluation of our beneficiaries to get quick and high-quality feedback.

Lean Data uses low-cost technology and methods to gather customer feedback quickly and efficiently. What we liked about it was that we would get honest and unbiased feedback from our beneficiary groups – both qualitative and quantitative.

We love getting feedback from our beneficiaries. We try to gather as much as we can, as this is how we learn and improve. But, it’s always hard to get unbiased and critical feedback, particularly when it is us asking the questions.

We asked Lean Data to report to us using three sets of beneficiary groups: our Family members (our Reading Champions who receive books from us to run reading groups in their community/school/organisation), our Fanz writers (who send us their writing for publication on and our Fanz readers (who have registered a reading profile on the platform).

We were pleased with the results. We received a Net Promoter’s Score of 50, which, according to Lean Data and Omidyar Network, is excellent. And, we received fascinating insights into what our Family, Fanz readers and Fanz writers love – and don’t too.

In addition to the report, we also received the hard data from our beneficiaries, so that we can dig deeper. These are some of the things that we’ve learned.

In general, Family members were very happy with FunDza services. 87% were rated as promoters of FunDza. The biggest reason for the satisfaction was the content, which encourages reading for pleasure. Some open comments that attested to this were:

Fundza serves the disadvantaged community by providing free and very user-friendly readers to teenagers. The mobi-sites offer a fun way of reading. All the donations have helped me to establish a little library at our school. The list is endless……

The quality of books they give us and the relevance the books have for our teenagers.

Very interesting content of the books which appeals to teenagers

The titles, variety of topics, and readability of the books is absolutely amazing. The youth can’t put them down. For an organisation like our own who is trying to build a love of reading and discussion, it is very precious to have books that are reliably loved by youth.

The books (esp. the Harmony High series) are very interesting and deal with real life matters and challenges faced by the learners we teach. They help me understand my learners more.

The books are great reads and it is appealing to a lot of young South Africans. The system is also very well run

There were some suggestions for improvements. These included the need for more workshops, a request for more books, increased access to online content or video training, and a request for more challenging activities to run in conjunction with the books. One comment was for books for younger readers but, given that this is not our mandate, it is not something that we will be pursuing at present.

The Lean Data survey also provided us with insight into our offering to both Fanz readers and Fanz writers. According to this survey, 70% of Fanz readers and 49% of the writers were rated as FunDza promoters.

The reasons for satisfaction from the readers were: reading the stories is improving language/reading skills, the wide range of texts and learning materials, and access to motivating or inspiring content that is locally written. For those with complaints, it seemed that there may have been expectations for funding that wasn’t satisfied or food vouchers that didn’t arrive (neither of which we supply), but some who were considered active promoters even left positive feedback such as, “I like FunDza, it’s helping us a lot.”

The reasons for satisfaction among the writers centred on: the public exposure from getting work published, the opportunity to improve writing skills, the site being fun and educational, and the ease of access to reading/writing materials. The main complaints centred on requests for payment for writing, requests for food vouchers, quicker responses to emails and delays in having work edited and published.

The survey has given us lots of food for thought and reflection, and it has given us some practical assistance too. We plan to integrate some of the questions into our standard feedback methodology so that we can start to monitor these changes over time.

Click here to download a report from Lean Data on our results.