Net2Local: Year-End Revelations

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Net2Local, TechSoup Global’s grassroots #nptech community-building initiative has almost reached the end of 2013. What did we do? What did Net2 Do in 2013Read on for our review of the last six months. There will be gossip, numbers and a few bad jokes along the way to keep you from getting drowsy. But if you’re impatient and hate history here’s a sneak peek at what’s planned for 2014.

Stats Time!

Net2Local has been busy over the last six months. Our volunteer network has accomplished the following:

  • 232 events
  • Approximately 5,000 attendees
  • We have 19,779 members in our meetup groups

That means Net2Local organizers are reaching as many people as NTEN’s NTC conference every quarter!

…and here’s the joke I prommised

Quote from Naples, FL organizer Birgit Pauli-Haack

“Changing the world is like eating an elephant.”

How do you eat an elelphant?

“One byte at a time.”

Community Highlights

So, those are some big numbers, what does it actually look like?

Net2Local wordle 2013

Wordle of event titles from Net2Local groups

Net2Local has adopted the core strategies of theme months to increase network cohesion and regional hubs to scale our ability to support local organizers. I’ll decode that slightly wonky language below.

Theme Months

We’ve been working on meeting Net2Local organizer requests for more event support by holding theme months. The most recent one was Social Media September. Fourteen Net2Local groups descended on their communities in full costume and delivered one-on-one training to local social benefit organizers. The surgeries are ridiculous fun for the organizers, and offer real tangible support to organizations still struggling with integrating the social web into their work.

In the coming months Net2Local will also be participating in the Digital Storytelling Challenge and more social media surgeries.

Regional Ambassadors

Regional Ambassadors

NetSquared has doubled down on our local focus by recruiting Regionals Ambassadors who are offering mentorship and support to new and prospective Net2Local organizers. Our current crop of Ambassadors are based in Douala (Africa and French-speaking countries), Cambridge (UK and Europe), Wellington (Australia and New Zealand) and Guatemala City (Latin America and Spanish-speaking countries). These volunteers have been very successful in expanding the amount of support we can offer our organizers. Each month the Ambassadors make several direct connections with their local organizers via email, the phone or social media and are offering personal support to organizers who are looking for new topics, co-organizers or need to puzzle through a challenge.

I’m really excited about the Ambassador pilot and look forward to expanding the program next year.

NetSquared Camps and Travel Bursaries

Ambassadors will also hold NetSquared Camps which will offer opportunities for Net2 organizers to get face-to-face with each other and TSG staff. We’ve already held Camps in

China, Cameroon, Uganda and Kenya. In the new year we’re planning on supporting organizers in holding unconferences and workshops in Burkina Faso, Australia, Canada, Guatemala, the United Kingdom and the United States.

These regional events allow us to get Net2Local organizers from different cities face-to-face, which deepens their engagement and increases retention. (We’d love to bring them all to San Francisco, but that would be too expensive!) TechSoup is supporting the NetSquared Camps and the regional gatherings of organizers through small travel bursaries.

Monthly Roundups

Each month we feature Net2Local events from across the globe and highlight our favorite stories from the NetSquared blog.

Perhaps my favorite story from 2013 is the emergence of the social media surgery as a core Net2Local event format. Surgeries are spreading like wildfire across the NetSquared community and finally solve the challenge of providing a fun, easy-to-explain format for volunteers to offer practical hands-on help for local nonprofits and charities.