Building a Better City

Are we making a difference? Help us, help you, help our community

Pollinators Inc have contracted Clear Horizon to see if what we’re doing is really making a difference, creating the change we expected, if the impact is worth the investment, and how we can do it better in the future.

In this blog post I’ll explain a little more about the approach we’re taking to evaluation, why we need and want to do it, and how you can contribute.

We would love for you, dear members, partners and readers, to give us feedback on what we’re doing and how we’re doing All those completing the survey will be eligible to win one of three one-year subscriptions to Dumbo Feather magazine.

To understand why Pollinators is doing this survey and why the Board and staff would so dearly love your feedback, I’d like share some context about how and why Pollinators started. The intention behind Pollinators was three-fold,

  1. Create physical, cultural and institutional spaces where innovators, entrepreneurs and good people could meet, learn, collaborate and feel supported. I’d met so many people in Geraldton who had amazing ideas, but felt unsupported, and didn’t know that there were so many others like them. The thought was “These people could benefit from being better connected and supported”
  2. Create something that enabled our community realise its aspirations. Through CGG’s 2029 and Beyond process and other activities it seemed that our community had great aspirations and visions for how their community could be a better place. What was also clear was that it was going to be beyond the capability and role of existing institutions to make that vision a reality. The thought was “This region could benefit from a new network or organisation to enable those visions to become the reality.”
  3. Create something that was, in itself, at least self-sustainable and perhaps generative of more initiatives. Governments, business and civil society organisations have all been looking for new business models and modes of collaboration that tackle the dependency and un-sustainability of traditional charitable or ‘non-profit’ models of change. The thought was “This organisation could be a profit-for-purpose social enterprise, mixing the best of the traditional business and non-profit models to create a financially-sustainable, social mission-driven organisation.”

We discussed these ideas and aspirations including ideas of what this would look like in-practice, and what were the real needs and opportunities. All sorts of questions were considered: Does that mean it’s a cooperative legal structure, or a charity? Would this include a physical building, and how would that be paid for or pay for itself? What common needs do those innovators and entrepreneurs have, and who would resource them meeting their needs? Who else may already be doing this, or thinking of it, or tried it before?

What came out of that inquiry, market research, and lots of meetings was a constitution, mission and objectives which you can download here. In summary, Pollinators came into being in order to:

Grow innovations and entrepreneurs as a means to create healthy, resilient communities

and this mission was going to be achieved through broad categories of activities like ‘raising awareness’, ‘supporting innovations’, ‘sharing knowledge’, ‘enabling collaboration’, and ‘partnering up’.

Practically that’s meant the Pollinators Board, staff, volunteers, partners, sponsors and funders have collaborated in three main areas under which we’ve offered a range of services and run a bunch of projects:

  • Spaces — creating physical spaces through CityHive coworking space, Livening up the Laneways, pop-up shops and markets,
  • Community — growing a membership base whom get informed and connected through newsletters, lunchtime events and online,
  • Learning — creating longer programs like Catalyst as well as one-off events and the ‘Goodness’ Sustainability and Innovation festival.

Now, after a couple of years of intense action, growth and data collection we’re doing some deeper reflection, evaluation and learning. Thanks to the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Social Enterprise Fund, the Pollinators Board has been able to appoint external evaluators to assess stakeholders’ perceptions of the effectiveness, efficiency and appropriateness of our activities, with particular emphasis on identifying lessons for improving our reach, relevance and impact in the future and increasing our ability to monitor the quality of our activities and impact over time.

Clear Horizon are the consultants and are doing a mix of activities, include:

  • Interviews with more than 20 key stakeholders (individuals and organisations),
  • Focus groups with some of our members and partners,
  • Analysis of the data and evaluations from our previous events and activities,
  • Surveys to reach as wide an audience as possible, like this one:

The evaluators, our Board, members and funders are interested in specific questions, including:

  • How effective are our communication methods in reaching existing and potential audiences?
  • What are stakeholders’ perception of the quality of Pollinators events and services?
  • In stakeholders’ experience, are Pollinators services and events in line with their needs and expectations?
  • What changes (positive and negative) at the individual, enterprise and community level can be attributed to Pollinators and how can these be measured in the future?
  • What have we learned that we can share with other regional communities, government, or similar organisations?

The evaluation report should be completed at the end of January 2014, including time for Pollinators to review and comment on a draft before we share the results with our members, partners and stakeholders. This evaluation will inform what we focus on in the future, to best achieve the organisation’s mission. Most importantly, this evaluation will also set the framework and methodology by which we can be more efficient and effective in learning in the future i.e. using the same types of questions, data collection and analysis more frequently to enable the Board and staff (and members!) to ‘steer’ the organisation’s activities much more responsively.

It’s a great gift, feedback. And I know that the Board and staff will all appreciate any thoughts or comments you have. Your small gift of feedback could translate into a better organisation, doing a better job at supporting innovators and entrepreneurs, and enabling healthier, more resilient communities for the future. That’s a gift that could keep on giving for a looong time.

Oh, and if you complete the survey by January 12th, you could win one of three annual subscriptions to the wonderful Dumbo Feather magazine!

Author: Andrew Outhwaite, Executive Officer of Pollinators Inc, E: P: 9965 5371

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