Why TechSoup Canada Hosts a NetSquared Group

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TechSoup Canada’s Tierney Smith on why they invest in NetSquared’s Tech4Good meetups. And why other TechSoup Partners should consider becoming hosts too.

Tierney Smith headshotQ: Tell us who you are in less than 140 characters
Former community Engagement Manager at TechSoup Canada. Translator between the worlds of technology and nonprofits/social change.

Q: Why did TechSoup Canada start hosting NetSquared meetups?
We started hosting meetups before TechSoup Canada even officially existed. We wanted to build our brand and let people know about the donations program, but more importantly to build community around nonprofit technology in Toronto - something that we see as being core to our mission.

Q: How has hosting NetSquared meetups benefited TechSoup Canada?
First of all, NetSquared meetups give us a visible and concrete presence in our community. They let community members get to know us as people and build relationships with us. 
Secondly, our NetSquared meetups give us an ongoing source of content that we can point people to, whether it be to attend the meetups in person, via live stream, or read the recap and watch the recording after the fact. In a world where content is king, being able to have these events and then repurpose the content in many ways is very helpful.

Having a strong community already existing around nonprofit technology has also helped us take the conversation to the next level, for example by hosting a one-day unconference-style event last year called NetSquared Camp Toronto.

Q: How has NetSquared helped you connect with your customers and supporters?
Every month at our events we meet new, interesting people - as well as seeing familiar faces and friends. This is one of the ways in which we put a face to our members and find out their needs and interests.

Q: What do your local participants really want to know? What are the most popular topics?
Topics related to online engagement - social media, websites, storytelling, emails, infographics, etc. - tend to be the most popular. However, we’ve also had a lot of interest in a wide variety of topics such as nonprofits and data sharing, technology trends, cloud tools and more. 

Q: What’s the coolest thing that’s happened at one of your events?
One of our participants was inspired to write a poem about what he learned - you can read it here: https://www.techsoupcanada.ca/en/community/blog/poem

Q: How do you measure the success of your events? (What do you consider a successful event? what does success look like?)
From a numbers perspective, we look at how many people came as well as how the event was rated (on Meetup and through a short survey we send out). However we also consider the personal feedback we got during the event and our sense of how engaged people were.

Q: Why should other TSGN partners consider hosting NetSquared meetups?
NetSquared meetups are a great way to complement existing programs such as the donations program that work by scaling to a large number of nonprofits. Since meetups are in-person, it gives you the chance to meet your community - and to let them meet you. It also helps you develop the capacity-building side of your organization.

NOTE: this interview was originally conducted in October 2013 and was published in the TSGN Partner Newsletter.