This March and April, another survey was sent to these and other influential customers. The preliminary findings were shared at the April 9, 2016 Executive Board Annual Business Meeting and we wish to share them with you here.
NOTE: This information comes from a preliminary sorting of the survey responses and is not the conclusive final version. We will share more information as the data is coded.
- Why does the Utah National Parks Council do Research?
- Scouting Roles Represented
- Who is our customer?
- Volunteer vs. Church Calling
- Perception vs. Reality
- Survey Questions
- Ranking of Scouting Issues
- Example Comments from Bishops
Why does the Utah National Parks Council do research?
- To give an avenue for all key volunteers to give their thoughts and opinions and to be heard.
- To gather key customer feeling about the how BSA can improve and get suggestions and ideas.
- To develop a priority to the problems, feelings, suggestions and solutions.
- To give BSA a better direction on what is most important to our customers and what they are looking for from the BSA.
- To better unite the council with our customers.
Scouting Roles Represented
With this overwhelming response from those who were sent the survey, we are able to get an even better view of what opinions are really out there. Bishops were our best-represented population, with 33% of all bishops in the Utah National Parks Council responding to the survey.
Who is our customer?
Research aside, we know who the real beneficiary and ultimate customer of Scouting is—the youth! Parents and Scout leaders are instrumental in getting the program to the boy, and so are a customer as well, but we have to always keep in mind that the whole reason the Boy Scouts of America exists is to lead our youth to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes. We must start with this fundamental knowledge before we can move further in our research.
We also know that while the youth are our most important customer, we do not and cannot reach this customer directly; there are simply not enough resources to make that a reality. So, we can turn to the next best source—the influencer. In the Utah National Parks Council, the most influential people are the local LDS Church leaders, like stake presidents and bishops. These leaders hold the keys to whether Scouting is a focus and is encouraged among local youth. They also hold the keys to who is called to serve the youth, and oversee the allotted budget for activities or camping. They also happen to be a much smaller group with which we can communicate more directly.
Volunteer vs. Church Calling
From our research, we know there are some differences between LDS Scouting and Scouting as a whole. One of the most recognizable difference is between someone who is a volunteer and someone who is called by their church leaders to a position. While there are both of these types within LDS Scouting and the Utah National Parks Council, it is important to understand their differences because they could determine how we communicate, encourage, or train each of these individuals in Scouting. It is also important to understand the similarities of these two types of Scouting customers; for example, they both love the youth they serve. One may be easier to interact with in Scouting than the other, but both are essential to delivering the Scouting program to the youth and thus need to be served equally.
Similarities between both types of volunteers:
Perception vs. Reality
One more thing we had to keep in mind while coding this research is that perception is what matters.
One comment from a bishop read that Utah National Parks Council must stop paying the big salaries of the executive board. The reality is that the executive board are all volunteers and do not get a cent, and often give large amounts to the Friends of Scouting campaign every year. Even in the Key 3 (council president, council commissioner and Scout executive), only the Scout executive is an paid employee of the BSA.
Another perception came from several comments that wished the Council would publish their financials and be more transparent. The reality is that those invited to attend the board meeting (that includes all bishops, CORs and stake presidents) are given a document every quarter with the financials of the council for their review.
So while these bishops had inaccurate information, the fact that they had misconceptions and believed them is what matters. Truth does not count—the perception is what matters. Without this mindset, we could not improve or know what must be communicated to help dispel the falsehoods.
Survey questions were qualitative, not quantitative, so in coding comments from the key Scouting volunteers we can get general feelings from our customers and importance rankings. With this data, we will then be able to filter down the right questions to get more quantitative research with solid numbers and percentages.
Participants were asked to rank and explain the following priorities:
- Clear Communications & Training*
- Maintaining Financial Sustainability While Reducing Cost of Scouting to the Families*
- Charter Partner & Customer Relationships
- Technology and Other Resources for Enhanced Public Relations
- Camping Properties’ Use and Physical Facilities
Participants answered the following questions:
What would you see as the top three things we could do to strengthen Scouting?*
If you were President of the UNPC, what would you do today to help Scouting Move Forward?*
*included in the preliminary report
Ranking of Scouting Issues
Below is a graph of how each study participant ranked the five statements. In red is their top pick, blue is their second pick. For example, we know that for bishops, reducing costs to families was a hot topic, but for stake presidents and most others, clear communication was their biggest concern. These rankings help us understand at each level of Scouting not only what leaders’ concerns are, but also how well we communicate with them.
Example Comments from Bishops
Below are some of the comments from bishops. The number next to the code is the number of comments made on that topic. Coding this way gives us a way of determining what under each topic is most important and most talked about. Take a look, the comments are worth a read.
We have found enlightening and helpful information just in this preliminary research. Once we finish coding all the comments we can then begin developing solutions. We’re listening. We are committed to working together to help our boys become outstanding men, serve faithful missions, and become honorable husbands, fathers and bearers of the priesthood.
Was this research helpful for you? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know in the comments.
Author: Melany Gardner | Editor, The Boy Scout, Utah National Parks Council