September 24, 2017
 
Measuring Success on a Shoestring Budget

By Sue Dahling Sullivan

Citi Performing Arts Center in Boston needs to get a lot of things right, and providing programming for diverse audiences in a busy urban center means you need to tap into the wants and needs of many different stakeholders: event-goers, community members, employees, and board members.

Staying in touch with these groups on a regular basis was a lot of work for the Citi Center staff (35 full-time administrative staff), which is why we used to make many decisions on instinct, instead of gathering data and feedback.

However, once we adopted a “Balanced Scorecard” approach, which meant aligning business processes more tightly to Citi Center’s nonprofit mission and goals, we knew we needed a better way to gather insights. We chose SurveyMonkey as an inexpensive tool ($300/year level but there is also a free membership) which helped us get rid of our spreadsheets and paper-based surveys, and move forward with online surveys that let us see results right away.

Here are three ways that SurveyMonkey has helped us so far.

  1. Measuring the Impact of Our Summer Leadership Program

    We put a lot of time and energy into our City Spotlights Summer Leadership program, which provides arts and community advocacy training for teens – and we used SurveyMonkey to find out how the teens’ summer jobs helped boost their confidence.

    We found out that 79% of the participating teens were more open to learning new things, and 72% said they were more comfortable listening to others’ opinions. That’s powerful validation of the program’s impact, and it’s something we might not have been able to measure without using a tool like SurveyMonkey.

  2. Reaching more Children and Families

    SurveyMonkey also lets us run our Spectrum Boston Ticket Access program as efficiently as possible.

    Every year, we give 3,000 free tickets to local children and families so they can attend City Center events, and we use SurveyMonkey to automate ticket distribution and get event feedback from attendees.

    In 2013, we were able to increase the number of tickets issued by 25%, without needing to add more staff.

  3. Guiding Employees and Board Members through Organizational Changes

    Surveys also tell us what people are thinking inside the organization, not just outside.

    When we implemented several organizational changes and SurveyMonkey helped us gauge how employees were reacting to our transformation. By using our initial employee surveys as benchmarks, we tracked employees’ progress in understanding the changes. Over time, this information led us to revamp performance evaluations, boosting employee satisfaction by 30% to 80% along different variables.

    Along with our employees, our board of directors is essential to Citi Center’s success, so we now survey them regularly on their knowledge of our strategic plan and their satisfaction with the board experience. Our initial board benchmarking survey showed that we had some work to do when it came to helping board members work well together and understand their role in our success. After we gave them improved job descriptions and better metrics about key initiatives, board members’ satisfaction levels reached 100%.

To help Citi Center remain a vital part of the Boston community, we need constant feedback from everyone who interacts with our organization. Using an inexpensive and easy-to-use tool like SurveyMonkey has brought stronger metrics and data into our culture, which means we’re making better decisions for our future.

Sue Dahling Sullivan is chief of staff of Citi Performing Arts Center provides arts, entertainment, cultural, and educational experiences. This article was adapted from a SurveyMonkey blog.

October 2014



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