Health Check: How are NetSquared Organizers Feeling?

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Every year we survey the NetSquared organizers to take the temperature of the community and get a sense of how we can serve them better. Number of survey responses by yearWe want to identify what is working and what could be improved. This year 75 NetSquared organizers completed the survey (vs. 58 last year). We’ll use last year’s baseline results to put the current results in context.

The survey indicates that the organizer community is generally engaged and healthy, but continues to struggle in some areas. I dig into the results in the graphs and comments below, but if you love raw data you can see everything in the organizer’s handbook survey section.

Recommendations and Next Steps

  • Orientation for new organizers needs to be improved - a high priority that continues from last year’s survey
  • Meetup is beloved AND hated. Is an alternative appropriate for some groups?
  • Organizers want to get face-to-face and in virtual hangouts to learn from each other
  • Splitting communications between an email list and a Facebook group has created a sense that some people are missing out, and switching to Slack didn’t fix this feeling
  • Organizers want more physical NetSquared support including swag, brochures, and financial support

I am suggesting the following changes based on the feedback:

  • Revise the onboarding process for new organizers, including creating a new “playbook” and creating a drip email campaign with tips to help get organizers started
  • Revise the Regional Ambassadors so that all NetSquared organizers are paired with a local representative and make sure we have coverage in all major languages
  • Review our communications approach to ensure that we balance organizer’s need to be informed with the fear of being drowned by message frequency
  • Create NetSquared promotional brochure and event templates
  • Recruit an intern to help create turn-key event templates and an additional theme month

We will also continue to share community events, videos, photos and reports on the NetSquared blog and encourage organizers to read and contribute. Please subscribe to the blog’s rss feed and follow NetSquared on Twitter and Facebook.

Results

Please Rate Your Current Experience as an Organizer

Experience as a NetSquared Organizer

60 of 75 (80%) of respondents are satisfied or very satisfied.

Comments

General satisfaction levels are holding steady. Last year 82% of organizers reported being satisfied. Now to get the other 20% deeply engaged…

Do You Expect to Be a NetSquared Organizer in Six Months?

Expect to be an organizer in six months

63 of 75 respondents (84%) said “yes”. 16% said “maybe” and nobody responded “no”.

Comments

The most common reasons for answering “maybe” is that the organizer is in a career transition or has lost a co-organizer.

How Many Hours Do You Spend Planning, Running, and Reporting on an Average Event?

Average Hours per Event
We ask this question so that we can estimate the amount of time donated by the NetSquared organizers.

The average organizer contributes 8.2 hours per event. During the previous year NetSquared groups held 629 events, which results in a rough estimate of 5,158 hours contributed by our volunteer network in the previous year. That’s astounding!

Why Are You a NetSquared Organizer?

Why Are You a NetSquared Organizer v2

This is a new question. We added it because we want to get a sense of both the motivations and incentives for NetSquared organizers.

The most commons responses were:

  • Empower community groups to make better use of technology
  • Connect with my peers/socializing & networking
  • Discover the latest technology trends

These responses confirm our understanding of NetSquared organizers – they are primarily driven by an urge to build community and share their skills with civil society. NetSquared also helps our volunteers build their skills and career, which is part of our model. What makes NetSquared sustainable for our organizers it that it satisfies both their philanthropic and practical needs.

Please Rate the Following Tools and Supports by How Helpful They Are to You as an Organizer

We asked NetSquared leaders to rank the value they received from the following resources on a scale of 1 (Very dissatisfied) to 5 (Very satisfied).

Email List

Untitled

Comments

The mailing list is the universal communications platform that all NetSquared organizers are on and allows them to communicate amongst each other. This year 63% of respondents round the email list helpful – an improvement over 55% in 2014. But the email list still isn’t universally loved. We’ve explored alternative communications tools, but these are even less popular.

Your Meetup.com Group Page

Untitled

Comments

Groups that use Meetup find it very valuable. 79% of you ranked it helpful. This is increase over last year’s 70% approval. Some groups don’t use meetup.com and instead choose to use sites like Facebook, Eventbrite or private RSVP platforms because of meetup’s restrictions like language support, community awareness of the platform, or meetup’s inability to export member data.

We plan to explore alternatives to meetup.com in 2016, but will be very cautious because of our community’s deep investment in the meetup platform.

NetSquared.org Event and Group Search

NetSquared event search

Comments

This year TechSoup launched the newest version of NetSquared.org that included the long-awaited ability to search for all NetSquared groups and events on a single site. It’s pretty cool and should increase discoverability of our events.

Blog on NetSquared.org

NetSquared Blog - How Helpful is it?

Comments

56% reported that the NetSquared blog, where we collect event reports and case studies is useful (vs. 36% last year). Many NetSquared groups maintain their own blogs and social media accounts, which they use for event reporting and promotion. However, the blog is still getting good use. During the last year we have averaged 11 posts per week, most of which are event reports, videos and storifys from NetSquared groups. This is a significant increase over the average of six posts per week in 2014, which may be why NetSquared organizers are finding the blog more useful.

Personal Outreach by the NetSquared Community Manager by Email/Phone/Video Chat

NetSquared Manager Support

Comments

NetSquared’s high-touch approach of one-on-one support is popular with organizers. Over the last two years we have expanded our support with the addition of our Regional Ambassadors, who are very popular with organizers.

Social Media Promotion of Events

social media support

Comments

Social media support for events is valued by organizers and this support will continue over the next year. If we can successfully recruit an intern we will have the capacity to increase social media outreach and promotion.

Theme Months and Event Templates

theme months

Comments

We didn’t put as much energy into producing theme months in 2015 and we saw a fall in their rating from organizers. This year 59% of organizers were satisfied with the theme months (vs. 64% in 2014). Theme months have been successful at demonstrating the global reach of the NetSquared community when we all work together. The theme months also offer a good way for less active organizers (especially new organizers) to get involved and hold an event.

NetSquared Ambassadors

NetSquared Ambassador Reach

61% of NetSquared organizers are in a region that has the support of a NetSquared Ambassador.

We asked organizers who have an Ambassador to rate their experience on a scale of 1 (not helpful) to 5 (extremely helpful). The average rating was 4.7.

Comments

How Helpful is your NetSquared Ambassador?The NetSquared Regional Ambassadors offer peer support from a veteran organizer to other group leaders in their region. Only 61% of NetSquared organizers are currently paired with an Ambassador, but we see that NetSquared is growing faster in regions with Ambassadors and organizers are deeply motivated by regular Ambassador touch points. Having an Ambassador approval rating of 4.7 is a HUGE endorsement of the Ambassador program by organizers.

Additional Supports

NetSquared organizers also highlighted the following community supports:

  • Co-organizers and volunteers
  • NTEN and their Tech Club sponsorship (many groups are co-affiliated with both NTEN and NetSquared)
  • Local venue partners and sponsors
  • Regional Ambassadors and organizers in nearby cities

What’s Working Well When It Comes to Communications and Support?

Selected and edited responses from the survey:

  • “The other co-organizers and my Ambassador are amazing. Everyone is very open and willing to share resources and perspectives”
  • “Direct email communication”; “Email responses are prompt and helpful”
  • “Getting together online or in person really helps… Meeting other organizers inspires and helps me brainstorm event ideas”
  • “I like the idea of Slack, just need more time to get accustomed to it and figure out how to best use it”
  • “I really appreciate when you send us updates on upcoming events and what other groups are up to – it’s a source of inspiration!”
  • “Knowing that there is back-up support from other Net2 Groups and good comms & resources centrally”
  • “There’s lots of good-quality info in the Organizer’s Handbook for anyone who is looking”

What Could Be Improved When It Comes to Communications and Support?

There’s lots to be done and, naturally, some conflicting demands from our diverse organizer community.

The biggest issue surfaced was the lack of clarity on how and when each internal communications channel should be used. In response to low satisfaction with the Facebook group (an even split of 45% found it helpful and 45% found it unhelpful/neutral) we switched to Slack six months ago.

However, despite some additional features Slack isn’t proving more popular. 36% of organizers find it helpful, but 32% feel it’s unhelpful/neutral. Additionally, there appears to be a regional split on how organizers feel about Slack. USA/UK organizers are generally Slack fans, but organizers in Africa have not embraced the new tool (perhaps reflecting the the Internet.org effort that offers free mobile access to Facebook in many developing countries?)

I am reluctant to add another communications channel for NetSquared organizers because “too many channels” is a common complaint. But if we want to supplement email with a “chattier” high-volume (but optional) platform we may have to consider adding Facebook back because each organizer and region are showing strong preferences for different platforms.

Selected and edited responses from the survey:

  • “A few more check- ins just to not feel isolated with our group”
  • “Would love more ideas/resources for turn key events”
  • “I wish we could get outreach among the local nonprofits that already use TechSoup”
  • Several requests for support in languages other than English:
    • “Please appoint a Chinese-speaking support person”
    • Spanish and French support requested as well
  • “Fewer communications channels”
  • “ I could really use a Slack tutorial”
  • Facebook:
    • “I miss the facebook organisers group. Was more active it seems and it’s where I hang out the most”
    • “Please reactivate the organizer Facebook group. It is easier and simple when it comes to information sharing as compared to Sack”

How NetSquared Can Improve Support

We asked NetSquared organizers for ideas on how we can make being a NetSquared organizer better. The most popular suggestions were:

  • Increased language support, especially in French, Spanish and Chinese
  • Financial support, especially for startup groups
  • Marketing support, especially by leveraging TechSoup’s existing global community and relationships
  • Hardware: projectors and computers to help with workshops
  • NetSquared.org
  • Meetup replacement
  • Help recruiting speakers
  • More regional gatherings
  • Event-in-a-box templates and recipes
  • Event signage templates: e.g., a sign-in sheet, direction arrows, etc.

Selected and edited responses:

  • Meetup.com
    • “Find an alternative to Meetup. Meetup has some tools to mass e-mail people, but I think those e-mails mostly go to spam/bulk inboxes and are ignored by most people because they are so generic”
    • “Have a separate website rather than a meetup, and a way to get email addresses”
  • Financial support
    • “Getting a small budget for events would be nice. We already have a free venue, but we still ask for event donations just to cover food, etc.”
    • “Offer financial assistance to young and newly admitted organizers so that they can organize their first event and boost their strength.”
  • “Help with marketing and help getting local speakers”

What Other Communities Are You Involved With?

wordle of other community organizations

NetSquared organizers are deeply involved with their communities. We asked our volunteers to name other organizations they are involved with. The most common responses included: NTEN, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Internet Society, TechSoup, Wordpress and local churches.

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The full survey results and respondent comments are published in the organizer’s handbook.