sites often have little information about their members beyond general
contact information. This information is vital for recruiting and
retaining members as well as deciphering the types of resources
that will be useful to Neighborhood Networks centers. Membership
information is also crucial to the development of marketing materials,
fundraising, and grants applications. With the right information
the consortium can create compelling arguments to potential funders
and/or provide crucial information that will strengthen a grant
a consortium can actually begin to collect information about its
members' centers, it must consider the purpose the information will
serve. Will it be used to maintain general contact information about
a center, for marketing materials, or as a resource for other member
centers? In addition, the consortium may choose to inform potential
donors of its existence and mission by collecting specific information
about members and creating a letter of introduction that paints
a clear picture of the consortium members. The information gathered
could also provide insight to the population that is served by the
member's centers. Regardless of the purpose of material design (marketing
or membership recruitment), it is always important that consortia
present clear and detailed information.
information does a consortium need?
wide range of information can be collected about Neighborhood Networks
centers that will be valuable to partners, funders, foundations,
and those seeking an understanding of a consortium. This information
is often critical to program evaluation, resource solicitation,
and grant development. Particularly in the latter case, it is important
to carefully select data that is helpful in constructing a grant.
The following are some examples of the types of specific information
a consortium might want to gather:
||Number of residents and resident units in the
property served by the Neighborhood Networks center. |
||Location of the center. |
||Demographic profile that includes age, race,
and income of residents or the surrounding community.|
||Number of residents that participate in center
||Types of programs the Neighborhood Networks center
||Capacity of Neighborhood Networks centers (including
number of computers, number of staff people, etc.).|
||Success stories and achievements.|
||Neighborhood Networks centers' needs (including
equipment, staffing, and program needs). |
||Historical information for each member center
(i.e., when the center was opened or how long it has been in
||Past funding success. |
this information, a consortium is well equipped to understand the
types of resources member centers may require and market their members
to potential partners and funders.
does the consortium gather this information?
are a variety of methods that can be used to collect information
about consortium members. These range from basic phone call interviews
to more sophisticated online surveys. The following illustrates
some of these data collection methods:
are contacted via a phone call. This survey tool requires
time in conducting the phone call; however, the surveyor gets
complete a paper survey questionnaire. The survey can be distributed
to members to fill out. Response time in this survey can be
complete surveys directly on the Internet. Many tools enable
you to view results online in real time as they are being
collected and organize the survey data into graphs and charts.
This survey tool requires Internet access. Generally there
is a small cost attached to online survey tools.
does the consortium store this information?
Collecting and storing data in a useable format allows the consortium
to analyze and develop a report about its members or the group as
a whole. At the most basic level, a text document can be used to
store information. However, this method is extremely static and
difficult to manipulate when the consortium is looking at numerous
members and needs to update the document. Text documents can be
created using basic word processing software such as Microsoft Word
and Corel Word Perfect.
can also be used to store data and allow users to make calculations
or crunch numbers. The major drawback with spreadsheets, as with
text documents, is that inputting and manipulating data becomes
awkward when there are numerous entries. Moreover, these types of
documents require some proficiency in spreadsheet use to be truly
effective. Common spreadsheet software includes Microsoft Excel
and Lotus 1-2-3.
are the most preferred method of storing data information. While
this method is more involved and requires database proficiency,
databases offer the most flexibility for maintaining information
about members, conducting searches and inquiries, and creating reports
about membership. Sophisticated databases can link to calendars,
include photographs of members, and keep a log of calls and to-do
lists. Some examples of database software include Microsoft Access,
ACT database, and FileMaker Pro.
following Web sites offer information about collecting data, using
Web surveys, and creating databases.