Stakeholder Survey 2002 Report


You're invited to add your comments on this report. We plan to conduct a survey each year, so you may submit questions for next year's survey.

Thanks for caring!

Gerald Iversen, National Coordinator


I. Summary

II. Data

III. Observations and Notes

IV. Conclusions

V. Stakeholders' Comments (600+; not included)

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I. Summary

Alternatives is committed to be an interactive organization, producing and offering educational resources that meet our mission and that our stakeholders want. A stakeholder is anyone who has a stake in the health of Alternatives -- members, volunteers, customers, board members, staff members and others.

We have about a dozen committees, each one usually has at least one member of the board of directors on it to help relate the work of the committee to the board and vice versa.

An annual Stakeholders Survey is a effective (and somewhat labor intense) way to relate to stakeholders in an open way. Phone calls and email between customers and staff are helpful but limited.

We received a total of 275 responses from 2500 printed surveys and from email to 6000 subscribers.

The respondents displayed a high level of involvement with the organization by reading the Update newsletter and the "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" booklet. They also offered many comments on numerous subjects, including membership benefits, present and future resources and services, and our web site. The average age of the respondents is 44.5.

To read the full report, visit http://SimpleLiving.org/Archives/News/2002SurveyReport.php

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II. Data

Response vehicles:

275 = Total number of responses.

Note: for a variety of reasons, responses do not always equal 275 exactly.


1. As a member and/or volunteer (SLOw Down Network) I receive the semi-annual "Update."


My comments/ideas to improve the Update...

My ideas for other membership benefits that would meet my needs...

2. In regard to an annual report from Alternatives, including financial data...

3. I have read and average of 2.4 editions of "Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway?" in the last five years.

I have read and average of 4.1 editions of "Whose Birthday" in the last 16 years (1986-2001).

4. The part of "Whose Birthday" that I usually find the most useful:

[Some multiple responses]

5. I feel the focus / balance of the booklet:

6. Here are activities or articles for children that I think should be added to "Whose Birthday"?

7. The following past resources and activities of Alternatives are worth reviving.

8. Instead of looking to the past, I feel that Alternatives needs to:

9. I would like Alternatives to provide these resources:

Other ideas and dreams for resources and services...

10. In the interest of environmental stewardship, I am willing to receive regular announcements by email and receive fewer by mail.

194 responses

127 = Here's my email address.

11. I have visited Alternatives' web site and found _____ to be the most interesting/helpful for the following reasons:

12. I have visited Alternatives' web site and found _________ to be the least necessary/helpful for the following reasons:

13. I have visited Alternatives' web site archives and would describe my experience as:

14. In regard to the proposed resource "30 Years of Alternatives" (1973-2003) all on one CD-ROM, I am

I would be willing to pay

15. Send me information about remembering Alternatives in my will. (Include name.)

16. Send information about gifting Alternatives appreciated securities. (Include name.)

17. I am associated with Alternatives' SLOw Down Network. I would describe the experience as...

18. I am associated with Alternatives' ASSIST program. I would describe the experience as...

19. Comments on Alternatives resources (quality, price, presentation), service, etc.

20. I think the slogans I have marked are worth using on a bumper sticker, poster or otherwise:

Here are my ideas/slogans:

21. In regard to the free Alternatives Reader (e-zine) on the web site at http://SimpleLiving.org/Review/Review.php

22. My age is: 44.5 (average; see notes for decades)

(This question was not included in the last survey.)

23. I think sending membership renewal requests by email is an

150 = Yes, send the $5 gift certificate.

125 = No thanks.

Name = 246 responses

Mailing Address = 222 responses

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III. Observations & Notes

Process and Response

We mailed 2000 copies of the Winter 2002 member/volunteer Update, which included the survey, on January 21, 2002. 500 surveys were sent with orders in February and March. The survey was emailed to 6000 e-news subscribers, 2/12/02. Then five reminders appeared in our weekly e-news through May 14th.

We received a total of 275 responses. Using the same incentive -- $5 gift certificate -- we received over 400 responses to our 2000 survey, even though that was a more complicated survey. Do we chalk it up to Sept. 11th., the same reason we also had a down year in sales and service requests?

We received 81 paper responses. 1200 members & volunteers also have email, so some of them probably replied via email or web site after getting the survey and reminders by email. Members/volunteers without email did not get any reminders.

Question 1

* A whopping 63% of the survey respondents read the Update, which is only mailed to members and volunteers (2000 copies). An additional 21% claimed to receive it, for a total of 84%, leaving only 16% respondents who are not members or volunteers.

The Update is available to all on the web site. The weekly e-news goes to over 6000 subscribers. This means that either a lot of non-members are reading it on the web site, or that a high percentage of our respondents are members or volunteers, or that some respondents were confused about what the Update is. Some may be thinking of the quarterly Resource Guide.

Next survey, questions intended only for members and volunteers should be clarified so that they're answered only by members and volunteers.

* Respondents gave 43 ideas for the Update and membership benefits. Assuming one per respondent (15%), that is an encouraging sign of interest in our membership program, which began in 1986 but which has grown very slowly.

Questions 3-6

* These questions were prompted by the "Whose Birthday" Review Committee. They will help us plan future editions of the booklet.

For five years the responses were:

No response = 18; 0 editions read = 28; 1 = 50; 2 = 48; 3 = 48; 4 = 24; 5 = 53; 6 = 1; 7 = 1

For 16 years the responses were:

No response = 20; 0 = 28; 1-5 = 171; 6-10 = 46; 11-16 = 18

Only 17.5% of the respondents hadn't ever read "Whose Birthday" (or didn't respond), another indicator that the respondents are a strongly committed/engaged group, not a general sample of our customers (let alone the general public).

Question 7

The Congregational Christmas Packets were produced from the early 1980's until 1994, when the Georgia staff felt that the sales no longer justified producing a new one each year. The Sioux City staff has produced a few Christmas resources in addition to Whose Birthday. In 2001, we combined them into an "any year - anybody" "Christmas Campaign Kit. It sold well, though it was introduced late in the season. We'll be following sales in 2002 after much more intentional marketing.

Questions 11-13

We are planning a web site Home Page make-over. We will analyze the comments to see other improvements that customers want on the site.

Question 14

Some 58% expressed some interest in our major new resource for 2002; 42%, no interest. (Interestingly, 50% said they'd be willing to pay money for it.) Since this seems to be a generally highly committed group, we would probably reconsider if this project were expensive (in money or time). But it requires little financial outlay (most of which is covered by a grant) and no new material.

Questions 15 & 16

Holding true to previous similar offers, very few respondents expressed interest in planned giving for Alternatives' benefit. We have been slow to prepare ourselves and our stakeholders for this.

Question 17

Our SLOw Down Network has generated many more volunteers (currently over 800) than requests for help. We have made a long-term commitment to face-to-face sharing of ideas. We have been getting little feed back after events. That which we have received has been positive, including several financial donations). The coordinator is working to keep the list clean and has devised a new evaluation form, which is sent with all requests for help. We continue to market the network (solicit requests for help) in virtually all of our publications (paper and electronic).

The ASSIST program (support for simpler living) is dead. The Program Committee is working on a new member benefit that will help our stakeholders connect. We also surveyed our 150+/- ASSIST members and received poor results similar to these.

Question 19

Some 36% of respondents gave comments on our resources. Most are positive. All will be considered in future plans.

Question 20

Stakeholders responded well to the bumper sticker options, an indicator that they will respond well to concrete ideas, i.e., give their opinions on "sound bites."

The stickers were grouped:

1) b-c = debt and credit

2) d-e = Earth and consumption

3) f-g = business

4) a, h-k = simplifying (negative tone)

5) l-m = branding

Disregarding the differences in wording, groups 2) and 3) were received most widely. We have new bumper stickers scheduled for the fall Resource Guide representing those sentiments -- "Love Our Mother" and " Get Corporations Off Welfare," as well as others: "Consumer Less, Share More" (a more positive version of group 4) and "Teach Peace."

Question 22

Interestingly, the average age on the preliminary report (first 220 responses, as of 3/18/02), yielded an average age of our stakeholders as 48.5. As of 5/15/02, the average age had been lowered to 44.5. This indicates that some younger people are later responders, i.e. they need to be given additional opportunities to respond.

Response by decades: 20's = 19; 30's = 40; 40's = 78; 50's = 81; 60's = 32; 70+ = 13.

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IV. Conclusions

Question 2

We will not publish an annual report for general circulation. We will produce one for grant applications, which will be available on our web site. We will notify people through the Update and e-news (but probability not the Resource Guide) that it there.

Question 10

Send more information electronically, less on paper through the mail. For example the summer edition of the Update will continue to be sent with "Whose Birthday" each year, but Winter issue will be sent only electronically to those who are identified in our database with the tag "Email only" (those who request email delivery whenever possible).

Question 21

Producing a quarterly e-zine requires no cash outlay, though some staff time. The response (60% positive) seems to justify proceeding.

Question 23

The four-step membership renewal process will continue, with the following change. Instead of three letters and a phone call, we will substitute an email message or a postcard (for those without email address) for step two. This will lower our cost. We will monitor its effectiveness.

Question 24 [$5 gift certificate]

The certificate will be sent on a post card at about the same time as our summer Resource Guide. Over half the respondents request it. About half of those who get it use it. It serves as an incentive to respond to the survey and to use Alternatives' resources.

NOTE: More conclusions will be reached after the staff and Program Committee have digested all the Stakeholder comments.

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