In February 2017, the Technology Affinity Group (TAG) launched an awareness and adoption survey about the Simplify Initiative. The goals of the survey were as follows:
- Measure Awareness – We hoped to measure awareness about the tools. In promoting adoption, we were unsure to what degree organizations were even aware of existence of these tools, versus being aware but choosing not to adopt.
- Measure Adoption – We wished to determine the existing levels of adoption for each tool. As with awareness, this information will help us understand where to best put our attention and resources.
- Discovery Hurdles to Adoption – For tools where awareness is higher than adoption, we wanted to explore in more detail what specific hurdles existed for each too, so that we could be more targeted in our efforts.
- Create a Baseline – Simplify will be tracking the growth of awareness and adoption over time, so that we can better understand whether or not our promotion efforts are effective.
Survey Approach and Participation
The survey asked about 29 tools that support the grants management life cycle. Invitations to participate were sent to over 1000 individuals at over 500 different organizations. This included direct emails the full Technology Affinity Group membership, as well as through newsletters and targeted communications with help from PEAK Grantmaking (previously the Grants Managers Network) and the Council on Foundations. In all, we received responses from 90 unique organizations. This is lower participation than we had hoped, but enough to draw some amount of insights to guide our work.
- Awareness is Low – By nature of having participated in the survey, the participants are already predisposed to being much more informed than most others about the tools we are promoting. The levels of awareness were lower in general than hoped, and this likely means they are MUCH lower for the general population of funders. This shows that creating awareness does need to be a large component of our work, and is a necessary precursor to achieving adoption.
- Interest is Lower than Hoped – The low level of participation in the survey shows us that interest in the topic is low, at least compared to other time demands of our target audience. This presents a significant challenge in promoting adoption, and requires that we be energetic in our outreach efforts.
- Organizations Don’t See the Value – One of the most common responses to the question “Why has your organization not adopted this particular tool?” is that they don’t understand the value the tool offers for their work. This shows that in addition to raising awareness and providing technical and logistical details about adoption, we need to provide our audience with strong business cases for why they should adopt.
- There Is Momentum Building – Many participants stated they were either investigating or already planning to implement some tools. This shows that adoption is growing naturally, and we need to look more closely at the circumstances around that and see what insight we can gain which could help with our efforts.
- Cost and Effort are Hurdles – The high level of cost or effort was sighted several times as a reason for not adopting. We need to work together with the tool providers to help address these issues.