Lessons Learned from the NetSquared Local Organizer Survey
In my previous post about the results of our Shape the Future survey, I focused on the larger NetSquared audience that interfaces with our work, both online and offline. In this follow-up, I’d like to tell you about our survey of Local organizers around the world and how they’re thinking about the future of NetSquared.
We wanted to conduct a separate survey of our organizers because they have such a strong understanding of NetSquared activities at the grassroots level. Many organizers regularly survey their own members, which gives them a special insight into the programming interests of their constituencies.
Here are just a few of the themes that emerged from the survey, with more to come!
Community, Community, Community...
A theme that came up repeatedly in the survey was a desire for community and connection amongst the organizers themselves. An overwhelming number want to be matched up with their peers to share ideas and/or get support.
Organizers placed a particular value on personal contact. When we asked how best to improve connections, an overwhelming majority voiced an interest in regional gatherings, as you can see from the response below. We at NetSquared need to do more to make those events happen!
The theme of community came up again when we asked organizers to respond to an open-ended question about what they like most about running their NetSquared Local group. We were fascinated to see the same words used repeatedly. Of 44 responses to this question, some variation of the words “meeting and networking with other or new people” came up 17 times, followed by words like “community” and “connected.” NetSquared is not only about tech-for-good, it’s also where people meet, create connections, learn and act together. The community-building aspect of our work cannot be understated -- it is at the core of what most organizers value about us.
Respondents seem generally satisfied with the level of support provided by NetSquared HQ during the Local group start-up phase, which encompasses everything from the application process to helping groups learn about our organizer handbook and other tools.
However, when it came to ongoing support, the numbers weren’t quite as positive. (By ongoing support, we’re referring to how we enable Local groups to stay vibrant over the long-term by helping them think through challenges, connecting them with other groups and new programming ideas.) A decent contingent of organizers found our long-term support to be sufficient, but too many said it wasn’t good enough, with a large "other" category of those who either felt that such support was unnecessary in their case or that some aspect of it could be improved.
Local Group Activities
When we asked a question about level of interest in various group activities, organizers said that they were very interested in “crowdsourcing feedback to nonprofits on tech and social media challenges” (38%) and “brainsquared (group brainstorming about attendee projects and ideas)” (36%) followed by “matching volunteers with nonprofit needs” (33%). These activities had a greater level of interest than “guest speakers on various topics related to tech and social good” (32%), which has historically been the bread and butter of NetSquared Locals. The results suggest that groups are interested in new and innovative ways of engaging their members beyond the traditional format, even though that format remains popular.
Interest in TechSoup Global Product Donation Programs
When I first started at TechSoup Global, I was told by some that the members of most NetSquared Local groups were not interested in hearing about product donations. I was therefore surprised by the response to the following question:
To follow-up on this need, we’ve begun exploring ways to arrange presentations for Local groups that wish to learn more about TechSoup Global product donation programs.
As we’ve stressed all along, our focused listening work at the end of this year is intended to inform concrete improvements to NetSquared programming and services in 2012. As part of this process, members of the entire NetSquared staff team have been charged with interpreting the results for themselves. I will surface the themes identified by our team to inform a set of key learnings, which I will share on the blog next Friday.
The key learnings will lead to a set of concrete recommendations that will be implemented early next year. We’ll be asking for your input all along the way, including now. What do you think of the responses to the Local organizer survey? Share your thoughts here or @MarcManashil.