How Are the NetSquared Organizers Doing?

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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. We want to identify what is working and what could be improved. This year 58 NetSquared organizers completed the survey (vs. 33 last year). Last year’s baseline results will give the current results comparative 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 you can also review the full results in the organizer’s handbook.

Recommendations and Next Steps

The survey identified a few gaps:

  • Orientation for new organizers needs to be improved
  • NetSquared.org can be improved to better serve organizer’s needs
  • 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
  • Organizers want more physical NetSquared materials, including swag and brochures

I am suggesting the following changes based on the feedback:

  • Pilot a drip email campaign to offer support to new NetSquared organizers
  • Continue to improve NetSquared.org
  • Launch the next phase of the Regional Ambassadors in 2015 and encourage people to apply for the regional event grants which will offer more direct and face-to-face support for organizers
  • Review our communications approach to ensure that we balance organizer’s need to be informed with the fear of being drowned by message frequency
  • Print and distribute NetSquared stickers and create a printable NetSquared promotional brochure

We will also continue to share community events, videos, photos and reports on the NetSquared blog and encourage organizers to read, comment 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

Please rate your current experience as an organizer pie

48 of 58 (83%) of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied.

Comments

Things are looking up! Last year 75% of organizers reported being satisfied, so we’re trending upwards. :-) Now to get the other 17% deeply engaged…

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

Do you expect to be a NetSquared organizer in six months v2

46 of 58 (79%) of respondents said “yes”. 21% said “maybe” and nobody responded “no”. The most common reason for answering “maybe” is that the organizer plans to move to another community, is experiencing burn-out, or is taking another career path.

Comments

The results on this question are virtually unchanged from last year, when 78% said they expect to continue as a NetSquared organizer.

How Many Hours Do You Spend Planning, Running, and Reporting on an Average Net2 Event?

Hours per eventThis was a new question added so that we could offer some estimates of the huge contributions of time donated by the NetSquared organizers.

The average organizer contributes 7.8 hours per event. During the previous year NetSquared groups held 468 events, allowing us to make a rough estimate of 3,650 hours contributed by our volunteer network. That’s pretty amazing!

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 (not helpful) to 5 (very helpful).

Organizer’s Handbook Wiki

Organizers Handbook

Comments

This is a core NetSquared resource but 17% of you don’t know about it! This is an increase from last year’s survey, when 12% were unfamiliar with this vital support. I’ve worked to raise the visibility of the handbook, but I haven’t made progress. However, the increase may be attributed to the fact that this year’s survey included more new and not-yet-active organizers. Just in case, here’s a link to the handbook once again. :-)

Email List

Email group list for organizers

Comments

The mailing list is the best way to easily reach all NetSquared organizers and allow them to communicate amongst each other. Last year 73% of organizers found the list helpful, but this year just 55% think it is helpful and 15% of organizers don’t know it exists. I attribute this drop to the changes Google has made to how they filter email lists in Gmail and the introduction of the Facebook Group (more below).

Facebook Group

Facebook Group for Organizers

Comments

This group was created last year in response to organizer feedback that they couldn’t keep up with the mailing list. The plan was to split our communications into two channels: 1) a low-frequency announcement email list which includes all members and 2) a high-frequency opt-in Facebook Group for discussions.

Some organizers LOVE the Facebook group, but this approach has split our community into different communications channels and created two different experiences. NetSquared organizers have very contrasting things to say about the Facebook group:

“Facebook page is great as it fits in with my natural communication paths and makes it feel like less ‘work’”

VS.

“I ranked the Facebook group as a ‘2’ because I can’t share the posts and discussions happen only sporadically and are better left to email group”

I will continue to explore how to meet our diverse community’s needs while not drowning organizers with a flood of messages.

Your Meetup.com Group Page

Meetup subscription

Comments

Groups that use Meetup find it very valuable. 69% of you ranked it helpful. This is virtually unchanged from 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.

Group Pages on NetSquared.org

Group pages on NetSquared-org

Comments

29% of you find the group aggregator pages on NetSquared.org useful. This is an increase from last year’s 21%, but still far lower than we would like. The NetSquared site is undergoing active development and we believe the new site will deliver much more value to group leaders.

Blog on NetSquared.org

Blog on NetSquared-org

Comments

36% reported that the NetSquared blog, where we collect event reports and case studies as useful (vs. 39% last year). Many NetSquared groups maintain their own blogs and social media accounts, which they use to meet their event reporting and local community support needs. However, the blog is still getting good use. Over the last year we have averaged six posts per week, most of which are event reports, videos and storifys from NetSquared groups.

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

Personal outreach by the NetSquared Community Manager

Comments

NetSquared’s high-touch approach of one-on-one support is popular with organizers. We expanded that last year with the help of our Regional Ambassadors pilot and hope to add more regions starting in January 2015.

Social Media Promotion of Your Events

Social Media Support

Comments

Social media support for events is valued by organizers and this support will continue over the next year.

Community Calls and Virtual Office Hours

Community Calls

Comments

Organizers are split about the office hours and hangouts with an unchanged level of support year-over-year. However, the number reporting that they find it unhelpful has dropped from 44% to 29%. In reaction to the interest of organizers I have reduced the frequency of general community calls to twice-yearly (from quarterly) and will increase the frequency of topic-specific Google+ hangouts to quarterly in support of our theme months and grant launches.

Theme Months (StoryMakers, Safer Internet, etc.)

Theme Months

Comments

Theme months were not an immediate hit, but support has risen to 64% (from 58% last year). Theme months have been successful at demonstrating the breadth and strength of the NetSquared community. Equally importantly the theme months offer a good way for organizers (especially new organizers) to get involved and hold an event.

NetSquared Ambassadors

Comments Ambassador Rating

During the last year we piloted a new program called the NetSquared Regional Ambassadors which offered peer support from a veteran organizer to other group leaders in their region. While not all regions had Ambassadors, we asked organizers who worked with an Ambassador to rate their experience on a scale of 1 (not helpful) to 5 (extremely helpful).

We had 30 responses and the average rating was 4.7. 23 of the 30 responses were a perfect “5”. This is a HUGE endorsement of the Ambassador program by organizers who had direct contact with their local leads.

Additional Supports

In additional to the NetSquared home-office support organizers highlighted the following additional supports as being key:

  • Co-organizers and volunteers
  • NTEN and their Tech Club sponsorship (many groups are co-affiliated with both NTEN and TechSoup/NetSquared)
  • Local venue partners and sponsors
  • Their employer (some groups plan their events on company time)
  • 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:

  • “Linking to things in the wiki from emails is really helpful.”
  • “The NetSquared business cards are very helpful.”
  • “In-person meetings with other co-organizers to discuss and share ideas.”
  • “Variety of communications - FB posts, calls, direct emails to small groups of organisers. Positive tone adding up to more than sum of parts.”
  • “The format of the update meetings is very good (live google doc, hang-out or phone audio). This encourages collaboration and participation.”
  • “It’s good to get the PowerPoint template. And to know the important topics the Net2 community are working on. They give us good inspiration as ingredients that we try to combine with the resources we have locally.”
  • “Love the theme months - keep them coming!”

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

Selected and edited responses from the survey:

  • “I get a ton of emails, so sometimes it can be hard to wade through everything!”
  • Inspirational Gifts like Certificates/Awards/T-shirts with printed logo/Logo printed caps."
  • “Financial support of local events needs to be frequent.”
  • “Community call platform needs to be improved. Some of us don’t participate due to the fact that the platform used is not supported in our countries.”
  • “I often have formatting problems with NetSquared blog posts.”
  • “Would be great to have a few more co-organisers being visible in our shared spaces - I’d love to hear more of issues and ideas from others.”
  • “… there is too much informations, and not enough time. I need a digest.”
  • “I’d like to see a little more outreach material produced, and active encouragement of word of mouth amongst participants and their peers.”
  • “I think better onboarding for organizers would be great.”
  • “Case studies of successful services and campaigns are very useful. It would be great to have 1 to 2 every month.”
  • “More offline planning sessions and a common net2 vision for all organizers.”
  • I want more collaboration on topics and sharing helpful printouts on the set topics. I want the members to leave with a set of reference documents so they can get engaged immediately."
  • “Getting started/welcome to new organizers needs to be more organized. e.g. send the big manual all at once as soon as someone joins, but also send 1 tip per week.”
  • “How about a Google Hangouts of organizers? Not to talk about their NetSquared groups, but maybe where they would like to see NetSquared go?”

Notes for Next Year

The survey could be improved by including the question “have you organized an event in the last three months?” to filter responses between active and inactive organizers.The 2014 survey included lots of new or inactive organizers and I suspect their responses and needs differ from veteran members.

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