TechSoup Global recently surveyed the members of our North American NetSquared community (Net2Local) on meetup.com. In the past we have closely examined the experiences of our volunteer organizers but this is the first time we have asked the members who attend our events to tell us what they think of Net2Local and TechSoup.
We will be sharing the results of the survey in two posts:
As of January 1, 2014 we have received 411 responses to the survey.
The goal was to take the temperature of the community, gauge their knowledge of TechSoup, and discover what topics they want to see.
The survey will help set a baseline for next year’s version, allowing TechSoup Global to see how Net2Local is doing year-over-year. The full survey results are published in the organizer’s handbook.
Net2Local groups serve a diverse mix of individuals serving and interested in the social benefit sector. Survey respondents tend to work for small organizations with limited training budgets, but are usually a technology decision-maker.
Group attendees are very happy with the quality of events and attend both because they want to network with their peers and because they want to understand the latest technology so that they can be more effective in their work. Respondents were most interested in web-based applications; communication and social media; and community organizing.
Event attendees are not familiar with TechSoup and its services.
Next Steps from the NetSquared Community Manager
Increase the emphasis on socializing and networking in Net2Local event templates
Give NetSquared organizers the tools to share TechSoup services with their members
Look into why so few Libraries are part of Net2Local
What kinds of people and organizations attend Net2Local?
We started the survey with a series of questions about people’s organizations and their roles.
What is your primary role?
The top three roles are marketing/communications/social media (20%); executive director, CEO or board member (18%); and IT staff or manager (15%).
Net2Local event attendees have always been very diverse, but I’m happy to see that a clear majority of attendees are in our target audience of nonprofits and charities.
The pleasant surprise from these results is that almost one in five attendees are a senior decision-maker at their organization. Most Net2Local events target communications and IT staff with practical tips and tools that they use in their work. But the high percentage of board members and executive directors shows that organizational leadership is hungry to learn how they can become more effective by using technology to deliver on their mission.
What best describes your organization?
We asked people to share what kind of organization they represented at their Net2Local meetup. The top results were nonprofit, charity or NGO (45%); for-profit organization (19%); and consultant (18%).
Net2Local groups seek to create connections between NGOs and their allies in other sectors, so it’s great to see a strong showing from the consultants and for-profit organizations. However, it is disappointing to see a very small showing from our brothers and sisters working in libraries and foundations. They are natural allies and I will have to reach out to TechSoup for Libraries for advice.
What is your organization’s annual operating budget?
We asked people to report their organization’s budget size because it’s a good proxy measure for their size and number of staff. Plus eligibility for the TechSoup donation program is sometimes determined by an organization’s total budget.
The majority of Net2Local attendees have an organizational budget of less than one million dollars. This matches with what NetSquared organizers have been telling me: we are serving small organizations who don’t necessarily have a large professional development budget for staff or the ability to hire consultants. They turn to Net2Local to keep abreast of emerging #nptechtrends.
Are you responsible for making technology purchasing or investment decisions at your organization?
75% of attendees have some responsibility for making technology purchasing or investment decisions at their organization. We are reaching people who are the technology influencers and trendsetters in their workplace.
The next set of questions are focused on the respondent’s participation in their Net2Local meetup group.
How frequently do you participate in this meetup?
A core one in five attend events every month, but most participate only when there is a topic that is of interest to them. 33% of respondents are not attending events, often because the group is inactive or because they have moved to another city.
A major goal of NetSquared is to build a self-sustaining community of practice for the nonprofit technology community. However the fact that only 18% of attendees are going every month means that there is a limited opportunity to build relationships because people aren’t seeing each other on a recurring basis. When we complete this survey next year I hope to increase the percentage of frequent attendees by working with Net2Local organizers to create event formats that encourage regular participation.
What is the primary reason you participate in this meetup?
The top three responses are to network with like-minded people (29%); to learn how they can apply technology to my cause or organization (29%); and to learn about specific topics of interest (18%).
I was surprised that networking was tied for the number one response. I have been emphasizing the educational aspects of NetSquared events over the social, but Net2Local attendees also want to connect with their peers. I will start focusing more on ice breakers and community socials in my work with NetSquared organizers. This renewed focus on the social should also help address my desire to encourage more frequent attendance at Net2Local groups.
How would you rate your overall experience at Net2Local events?
82% of respondents rated their Net2Local group’s events excellent or good. Yay!
I am happy with this high satisfaction level. Our NetSquared organizers generously volunteer their time to bring nonprofit tech events to their community, and they are doing a bang-up job! This number will be a benchmark for comparison in subsequent years. We will try to keep that number high!
What have you learned at your Net2Local group’s events?
These images are generated from the 150 responses to the question “what have you learned at your Net2Local meetup?” and show the frequency of words in the responses. The more a word is used the bigger it appears.
I LOVE that “people” is at the center of these wordles. That’s what we’re all about.
What is the likelihood that you would attend an event on the following topics?
NetSquared organizers have been asking me “what do people want to learn about?” Finally I have an answer! The three most popular topics are web-based applications; communication and social media; and community organizing. The least popular topics are innovators and innovations in the field; thought pieces from industry experts; and multimedia design.
Most of the topics have similar levels of interest. In the future we should re-frame this question so that we force respondents to rank their top choices.
The next series of questions focus on Net2Local participant’s knowledge of NetSquared’s mother organization TechSoup (USA) or TechSoup Canada (Canada).
How frequently do you visit TechSoup for educational articles, blogs and/or forums?
Half of Net2Local attendees have never visited TechSoup’s website.
How frequently do you participate in TechSoup’s educational webinars?
I suspect that the percentage of Net2Local participants using TechSoup’s online resources will always be low because Net2Local attracts people who prefer to learn in live group settings, rather than online. But there is still an opportunity to connect more of our participants with TechSoup’s deeply valuable (and free!) resources.
Is your nonprofit, charity, foundation, or library registered with TechSoup?
73% of respondents who were affiliated with a nonprofit or charity say that they are not registered with TechSoup.
Ack! This is maddening! TechSoup offers deeply discounted hardware, software and services to NGOs with the support of our corporate partners. Every time an eligible organization pays list price for their software they’re throwing money away! I will collaborate with the TechSoup marketing team to help communicate our services more effectively with the help of the NetSquared organizers.
I received a few comments from people who wish this question had a “I don’t know” option. I’ll be sure to add this next time, but this oversight doesn’t invalidate the shockingly high number of people who aren’t familiar with TechSoup’s services.
How frequently does your organization request donated or discounted technology or services through TechSoup?
We asked those respondents who are familiar with TechSoup how frequently they make requests.
Made it this far? Congratulations on being a curious kitten!