Who are NetSquared's members? Why do they attend? What are their technology struggles? NetSquared's annual survey of all meetup members answers these questions and more. Plus, the results help our local organizers and partners build stronger groups with better events.
We received over 250 responses to the survey, drawing from our global meetup membership.
Most NetSquared participants come from small "startup" nonprofits with no budget and no staff. They come to us looking for practical tips and a supportive community.
Participants find NetSquared valuable because it helps them network with other nonprofits, learn digital skills, and find project collaborators.
Event attendees are unfamiliar with TechSoup's services, but less so than they used to be. ;-)
NPS Score: Would You Recommend NetSquared to a Friend?
We added a Net Promoter Score (NPS) scale this year, asking "how likely are you to recommend this meetup to a friend or colleague?"
A score of "4.7" doesn't mean much without context — the interesting results will come when we run the survey again and see if the score changes. But NPS benchmarks suggest that this is a low, but still positive score.
Organization Type: What Best Describes Your Organization?
We asked people to share what kind of organization they represented. The top results were "nonprofit, NGO, or religious organization" (52%); "consultancy" (14%), and the random assortment that is "other" (11%).
Nonprofits are our core audience, so it's awesome to see that over half of attendees are people working in the sector. But NetSquared groups seek to create connections between NGOs and their allies, so it's good to see strong representation from key sector players like nonprofit tech consultants and business.
What Is Your Organization's Approximate Annual Budget? (US$)
68% of respondents have a budget under US$1,000,000 and of that 42% are working with less than $100,000 per year.
The majority of NetSquared participants are small, scrappy, "startup" nonprofits just starting to grow. We are serving the section of civil society that doesn't yet have the ability to bring in paid consultants or dedicated technology staff.
When we compare the results of this survey over previous years, the average budget size for the organizations we serve is decreasing over time as NetSquared expands into more developing countries. This is an important reminder of the limited resources of the sector, especially outside the United States.
How Many Paid Full-Time Employees Work For Your Organization?
59% of respondents have less than ten staff. 31% are entirely community-driven and have zero paid employees.
NetSquared is serving the "accidental" techie, not the dedicated IT professional or programmer. Attendees are serving multiple roles in their organization.
Who Is Primarily Responsible for Technology Decisions at Your Organization?
49% have someone helping with a formal IT background. 61% of respondents report that they are the primary technology decision-maker at their organization.
Almost half of respondents have access to experienced IT help, whether from staff, a volunteer, or consultant. The rest are making do with "accidental techies". Very few organizations are leveraging consultants or external IT staff, probably because they are too small to afford external assistance.
What Is Your Role At Your Organization?
We asked respondents to select up to three roles they play in their organization. The top responses were:
Executive, Management, Director (41% — ⬆️ 12% compared to previous survey)
IT and Technology (32% — ⬆️ 2% compared to previous survey)
Marketing or Communications (21% — ⬇️️ 10% compared to previous survey)
Board Member (20% — ⬆️ 6% compared to previous survey)
There’s been a big jump in the percentage of nonprofit leaders attending NetSquared events. Executive Directors are no longer ignoring the significant positive impact that technology investments can make for their organizations.
The next series of questions focus on the respondent's knowledge of NetSquared's parent charity, TechSoup.
Which Techsoup Resources Do You Use?
Besides the NetSquared meetups the most popular TechSoup resources are the blog (35%), product pages (33%), and webinars (31%).
Two and a half years ago I surveyed the NetSquared members and discovered that they weren't aware of the resources available from TechSoup. So we set to work to change that with communications to organizers and direct messaging to attendees via Meetup (which has only been possible with the rollout of Meetup Pro since the last survey). 🎉🎉AND WE’VE MADE BIG PROGRESS!🎉🎉
Is Your Nonprofit, Charity, Foundation, or Library Registered with TechSoup?
54% of nonprofit respondents report that they have a TechSoup account (and you all should! It's free and it'll save you money!)
The percentage of TechSoup account-holders is up, but the "I don't know" option remains high at 17% (vs. 19% last time). I suspect that many of the "I don't know" nonprofits do have an account, but don't know about it because it's administered by their IT manager.
The next set of questions are focused on the respondent's participation in their local meetup groups.
How Did You Discover NetSquared?
Meetup is the most important tool for NetSquared discovery, with almost 50% of respondents citing it as their entry point to the community. Referrals from a friend are also important, with 25% reporting that it's a personal contact that brought them to NetSquared.
The biggest change since the last survey is the HUGE increase in the percentage of NetSquared attendees finding the meetups via TechSoup channels. This is thanks to the increase in email marketing support from TechSoup USA.
What Are the Top Two Reasons You Participate in This Meetup?
We asked people to select two choices from a list. The top options were:
Network with nonprofit staff (62%)
Learn digital skills (58%)
Find project collaborators (29%)
Once again networking & community is the top choice. People attend NetSquared events for the people.
NetSquared is very successful at being a place to find a community of practice and develop digital skills. However, we don't offer any explicit support for people to find project collaborators or volunteering their skills. This is all happening organically through the networking, but with supporting programs we could help more attendees contribute. 🙏🏾
Have You Shared Information You've Learned at a Meetup?
NetSquared attendees are promiscuous! 76% have shared knowledge they’ve gained at an event. And 18% report that it drove them to try a new product or change the way they work.
Has the Meetup Been Useful in Increasing Your Adoption of Technology?
59% of respondents report that attending NetSquared events is useful in helping them increase their adoption of new technology.
How Does NetSquared Help Your Nonprofit?
The top three responses answers to this impact question were:
Makes connections that help me do my job better (63%)
Make better IT or digital marketing decisions (60%)
Reach more people (60%)
Measuring the impact of a distributed network like NetSquared can be difficult, but these questions start to help us determine the difference we make for our nonprofit members. The top answers reflects the value attendees find in networking, and the ability to make better tech decisions and reach more people speaks to the skill development we offer attendees.
NetSquared Impact Testimonials
Finally, the last section of the survey analysis features quotes from some of the text replies to the questions "How has attending NetSquared meetups helped your organization?" We have edited some entries for brevity or clarity.
“NetSquared has introduced me to new technology, newer ways to connect with people and to find collaborators. Thanks ”
“I learned about upgrading a website and when I got back home asked my website guy to implement some of them with success.”
“I always learn something at these MeetUps! The organizers are very welcoming and encouraging. Wonderful group of people.”
“Working at a non-profit, you are strapped for time and resources so it is incredibly helpful to get help when it comes to technology. ”
“In one nonprofit, NetSquared experience helped me develop a Collection Management System with offsite backup. In another nonprofit, NetSquared enabled me to know to create a Communications Officer which is now one of the primary officers.” — Leo Kellogg, Torch Foundation
“As a consultant serving the nonprofit sector, I love seeing what technologies people are most interested in, and learning more about their needs. It really helps me do a better job serving clients, whenever I understand their perspectives and priorities better.”
“I not only learn about programs and techniques that I put to valuable use but I also meet experts who I can consult with. The meetings are very valuable to me.” — Frank Brill, EnviroPolitics
“We found the help and cost savings have been really helpful, and we will no doubt take up the discounts on any commercial software that we need to us in the future. ”
“I have enjoyed attending sessions with NetSquared and learned a lot of new things. It has allowed me to network and bounce my ideas with like minded groups.”
Changes to the Next Survey
No survey is perfect, especially this one! Here's some tweaks we will consider for the next survey:
Add question "Have you ever attended a NetSquared event?" (allows us to filter results to see active vs inactive members)
Revise question "What TechSoup Resources Do You Use?"
Change "information pages about specific products" to "product pages"
Add option "TechSoup discount and donation programs"