tl;dr: After 10 years NetSquared broke the 100 active groups barrier. Yay!
NetSquared is TechSoup’s global network of volunteer-led nonprofit technology meetups. We're the answer to the question “where can I get support to use technology effectively at my nonprofit?” Event attendees build their networks and learn practical technology skills to support their programs, marketing and fundraising.
Over the last 12 months NetSquared expanded 46% to reach 105 active groups in 34 countries.
The big story for NetSquared in FY17 is global expansion. The launch of http://TechSoup.global has resulted in an explosion of activity in new territories like Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon, and Latin America. TechSoup and our partners now have donated software available in every country with a NetSquared group. This has helped energize our group leaders and increased the value we bring to our nonprofit members. This new energy resulted in a 42% increase in the number of countries with an active NetSquared group, growing from 24 to 34.
Our growth can also be attributed to the NetSquared Ambassadors, volunteers who act as mentors to fellow organizers in each of our major regions. The Ambassador's outreach has been driving the creation of new groups and more regular events.
Here's all the numbers for July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.
# of events: 888 (vs 825 previous year) ⬆8%
# of attendees: 8,652 (vs 12,943 previous year) ⬇33%
# of active groups: 105 (vs 72 previous year) ⬆46%
# of countries with active group: 34(vs 24 previous year) ⬆42%
# of meetup.com members: 45,585 (vs 35,631 previous year) ⬆28%
# of new groups created: (vs 17 previous year) ⬆106%
The number of attendees is down because we removed two large groups that were generating a lot of RSVPs but that were no longer holding events targeted at NetSquared's core audience of NGOs.
TRAINING AND SUPPORT
As NetSquared grows we need to scale our onboarding process so that we can serve more communities. Over the last 12 months we've made radical changes to our orientation process for new organizers and updated our support materials help existing organizers master our events platform and hold better meetups.
Quarterly office hours webinars allow NetSquared organizers to support each other.
The organizer orientation process is now tracked in a CRM and new organizers receive a timed series of welcome emails.
These changes have more than doubled number of successfully launched groups. And this happened at the same time that we increased the barrier to entry for new organizers, since we now require three scheduled events before we create a meetup.com group, rather than the earlier requirement that organizers plan just one event to start.
As NetSquared has grown to more than 100 active groups it's been difficult to give direct support to all organizers. So we work closely with a group of seven super-volunteers who offer direct support to fellow organizers in their region. We call them NetSquared Ambassadors and they're amazing! In 2016 The NetSquared Ambassadors referred 40 new organizer leads, which is one third of all prospective NetSquared organizers! The growth from the Ambassadors has allowed NetSquared to continue growing after several flat years.
NTEN's Nonprofit Technology Conference is the largest annual gathering of NetSquared organizers every year. It's my opportunity to train the NetSquared Ambassadors and build relationships between organizers from across the USA.
This year, with support from Microsoft, we were able to award 20 partial travel scholarships to help NetSquared organizers attend the 17NTC conference. NetSquared volunteers attended a half day “Modern Nonprofit” overview of Office 365 to prepare them for local workshops. NetSquared organizers also attended a joint series of trainings co-hosted with NTEN with a focus on developing event and leadership skills. Organizers returned home energized and ready to keep building the tech skills of nonprofits in their community.
OFFICE 365 WORKSHOPS
NetSquared partnered with Microsoft to create 26 Office 365 and Azure workshops. We reached over 350 nonprofits and prepared them to successfully implement Office 365 at their organizations. NetSquared is truly global, so we offered hands-on technical support in emerging economies where nonprofits need us most, like Uganda, Cameroon and Peru.
The NetSquared "Modern Nonprofit" workshops had immediate impact in building awareness of Office 365 with attendees, but they also had lasting impact on our organizers. We supported 26 events with honorariums, but there were actually 56 events Microsoft-themed events during the last year. Once we train a NetSquared organizer on Office 365 they keep the event in their toolbox and bring it out again!
The organizer survey showed that 79% of volunteers are satisfied or very satisfied. We also learned that the average organizer contributes 6.8 hours per event. During the previous year NetSquared groups held 888 events, which results in a rough estimate of 6,038 hours contributed by our volunteer network in the previous year. That's amazing!
We also surveyed event attendees to help us measure why nonprofit staffers attend. What value do they get from being part of the NetSquared community?
We learned the nonprofits are part of NetSquared because we help them:
Make connections that help us do our job better (72%)
Make better IT decisions (63%)
Reach more people (60%)
Increase our efficiency and productivity (53%)
NetSquared doesn't have a set curriculum, so every group develops their event topics based on their community's unique challenges (although we do have a library of event "recipe cards"). This allows us to listen to the needs of local nonprofits globally, which informs the work of TechSoup and the entire NetSquared network. When we create a wordcloud to show the frequency of words in event titles we see the following emerge:
Social Media and Social Media Surgery
These words reflect the essential elements of NetSquared:
free or by donation.
Please welcome this year's cohort of new NetSquared groups!
NetSquared Pangani, Tanzania
NetSquared Jakarta, Indonesia
NetSquared Nanaimo, Canada
NetSquared Phoenix, USA
NetSquared Karnataka, India
NetSquared Mukono, Uganda
NetSquared Mumbai, India
Tech for Good Bath, United Kingdom
NetSquared Webb County, USA
NetSquared St. Charles County, USA
NetSquared Fort Collins, USA
Tech For Good Dublin, Ireland
Tech4Good Charlotte County, USA
NetSquared Covina, USA
NetSquared Dubois County, USA
NetSquared White Plains, USA
Tech4Good Pembroke Public Library, Canada
Tech4Good Bristol, United Kingdom
NetSquared Ilorin, Nigeria
NetSquared Atrisco, USA
Tech4Good Grand Genève, Switzerland
Tech4Good Yverdon, Switzerland
NetSquared Buffalo, USA
Geek Speak Caerdydd, United Kingdom
Tech4Good Lausanne, Switzerland
NetSquared Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia
NetSquared Long Island, USA
NetSquared Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
NetSquared Brisbane, Australia
Tech4Good Tauranga, New Zealand
NetSquared Fayetteville, USA
NetSquared Bafoussam, Cameroon
NetSquared Barcelona, Spain
One Digital Meetup, Scotland, United Kingdom
Check out all our groups and find your closest event by searching NetSquared.org.
In the coming year we will increase support for our community of NetSquared groups. Together we can serve TechSoup's mission of putting technology tools and skills into the hands of nonprofits and charities so that they be more effective in delivering on their mission.