NetSquared is TechSoup’s global network of volunteer-led nonprofit technology meetups. Like TechSoup’s webinar program we deliver on our educational mandate -- we answer the question of “what's next after we put the tools in nonprofit’s hands?” Event attendees build a support network and learn practical technology skills to support their programs, marketing and fundraising. In FY16 NetSquared expanded 22% to reach 72 active groups in 24 countries.
The big story for NetSquared in FY16 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. Our growth can also be attributed to our 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.
HIGHLIGHTS FOR FY16
Continued improvements to http://www.NetSquared.org, including the ability to automatically detect the location of visitors so that we can improve search results.
Expansion of the Regional Ambassador program to seven representatives (up from four the previous year). We are now covering every area with a high density of NetSquared groups.
We delivered in-person training to more than half of our NetSquared organizers via the Ambassadors. Regional events were held in Canada, USA, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria, Guatemala, Poland, UK, and Belgium. These trainings increase organizer retention and engagement.
NetSquared groups held 23 Storymakers events, driving video contest submissions and participation in online events and training.
If you've got more time let me show off on behalf of the NetSquared organizers!
Do you like numbers? Check this out! NetSquared's community continue to grow.
No. of active groups: 72 (vs 59 last year, a 22% increase)
No. of events: 825 (vs 629 last year, a 31% increase)
There were 12,943 event RSVPs and we can reach 35,631 meetup members.
Over the last three years the number of groups has grown 60%, the number of attendees has increased 81%, and the number of events is up 121%. I expect NetSquared's growth to continue in the coming years thanks to our investment in Regional Ambassadors and the launch of http://TechSoup.global's international donation program.
NetSquared doubled down on our local focus by recruiting our third cohort of Regional Ambassadors who are offering mentorship and support to new and prospective NetSquared organizers. We expanded the number of Ambassadors to seven, which has allowed us to offer mentorship in almost every core area. 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 organizers in their region and are offering personal support to organizers who are looking for new topics, co-organizers or need to puzzle through a challenge.
My dream is to bring all the NetSquared organizers together for training! But in the meantime we are holding small group and in-person trainings led by our Ambassadors. More than half of our NetSquared organizers attended a local training in FY16, with workshops held in Canada, USA, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria, Guatemala, Poland, UK, and Belgium. These trainings increase organizer retention and engagement. They also honor the core NetSquared value of offering interpersonal connections and live meetings, which is what originally brought our Organizers to our table.
TechSoup invested in the Regional Ambassadors by bringing many of them to NTEN's 16NTC, but sadly we couldn't get US travel visas for our three NetSquared organizers from Africa. The Ambassadors had a multi-day leadership training before the conference. Ambassadors built their skills, relationships with each other and supported the other NetSquared organizers attending the conference.
We also held a one day training for 25 other NetSquared-affiliated organizers after 16NTC, allowing them to share best practices and build the necessary connections to increase their commitment to the network and support each other in our online peer communities. Organizers returned energized and we are excited to create a bigger training day after 17NTC in Washington, DC.
WORKING WITH TECHSOUP
NetSquared worked hard this year to coordinate the community organizing of the NetSquared leaders with TechSoup's programs so that we can create more impact together.
Office 365 Workshops: Train-the-Trainer
NetSquared partnered with Microsoft to create a "train-the-trainer" curriculum for NetSquared organizers. Workshop leaders invited small, emerging nonprofits to intimate hands-on meetings to help them set up email accounts on their own domain name. Our target audience was NGOs without their own IT staff who could benefit from the scaleability, professionalism, and stability that hosted email provides. NetSquared organizers delivered 32 workshops with a focus on emerging economies like Uganda, Cameroon and El Salvador. 332 attendees received our training and returned to their organizations to act as local administrators.
NetSquared organizers held 23 local events during TechSoup's Storymakers campaign. We taught local nonprofits how to use digital tools to tell their stories and advance their mission and helped lead a global online conversation during our twitter chat.
This year we surveyed the NetSquared organizers. The surveys allow us to see the impact of our global network.
The organizer survey showed that 80% respondents were satisfied or very satisfied. We also learned that 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 amazing!
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 run a frequency wordle of the titles of our events we see some trends. Popular words include:
Social Media / Social Media Surgery
These words reflect the essential elements of NetSquared: 1) Tech4Good topic 2) in-person trainings 3) monthly and 4) free or by donation.
Some of the new groups include:
NetSquared Accra (Ghana)
NetSquared Bamenda (Cameroon)
NetSquared Batibo (Cameroon)
NetSquared Brasilia (Brazil)
NetSquared Chippewa Valley (USA)
NetSquared Colorado Springs (USA)
NetSquared Daytona Beach (USA)
NetSquared Kigali (Rwanda)
NetSquared Kitchener Waterloo (Canada)
NetSquared Lusaka (Zambia)
Tech for Good Manchester (UK)
Tech4Good Abuja (Nigeria)
Tech4Good Las Vegas (USA)
Check out all our groups and find your closest event by searching NetSquared.org.
In the coming year we will work towards providing increasingly support for our community of NetSquared groups so that 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 missions.