We repeated our O Week Mission from last year, trying to capture 'lessons learned' along the way.

Below are a few quick reflections:

1. Different incentive

We didn't want to do keep cups two years in a row, both because they are more expensive, but also because we wanted them to keep their 'wow' factor.

We tried to get free pizza vouchers donated without success, so we ended up going with earbuds:

These were cheap ($2 each) and attractive. But nowhere near as much as the keep cups. So we dropped about 30% our participation rate (from 1100 to 678), and we suspect that partly it was the incentive.

I still think it was right to save money and hold back the keep cups for a year. But there you have it.

2. Electronic data entry and follow up

We spent HEAPS of time setting up and troubleshooting Elvanto to make the most of as many automations as possible.
Last year the amount of effort spent in data entry and follow up emails/texts was horrendous. And the amount of data that got corrupted through illegible handwriting or faulty transmission was pretty high.

So this year we set up:

  • the survey in Elvanto Forms
  • has this automatically add people who wanted to find out more to our database and a People Flow
  • set up automated SMS and email to be sent through Elvanto on the same afternoon that they were processed
  • set up our follow up 3 times inviting peopel to have coffee as four steps in a People Flow with automated SMS and email.

We had purchased 4 iPads with some grant money last year, so we had them at our survey stalls, but this wasn't quite enough for the amount of people queuing up. So we also set up QR codes so students could access the survey themselves.

Interestingly, most students would rather wait 3 minutes for the iPad than figure out how to use a QR code. So we then also added the survey to a link from our website ufcutas.org. But even THEN they would mostly rather wait fo rthe iPad. Interesting, eh?

Along with the inentive being less attractive, I think the electronic surveys led to a lower participation rate. However, I suspect a decent amount of what we lost in overall numbers, we gained back in time, energy and accuracy. And I think we can do some things to get more participation next year, knowing that students would rather use our technology than their own phones.

I don't think we can justify buying more iPads for only an annual use. So next year we will ask staff and others rostered on to consider brining their tablets and laptops while they are rostered on, to have more machines on the stalls, in addition to our iPads.

3. Better lead up and buy in

We got the grant late last year and so didn't have a good lead up to the O Week Mission 2016. This year, peopel had already experienced it, and seen it 'work', and we had a big lead up in the end of 2016. So it was much easier to get engagement, enthusiasm and ownership. Heaps more volunteered and engaged, both from among our students and local churches.

4. Fliers for pizza parties

We gave out fliers advertising our evening pizza partires to those who completed our surveys this year, rather than just relying on email and SMS. We weren't sure if this would lead to lots of freeloaders who didn't want to know anything about us.

Happily we saw an increase in attendance at these events, without it being a locust swarm of cynical gatecrashing students. We had over 100 attend across the 3 evenings, and except for Wednesday, most were connected with effectively.

5. Pizza parties on campus

We moved one of our parties to the campus due to a double booking at our event venue. And this move still worked fine. The advantage of the church venue is we could say 'This is where our main meeting is: come back on Thursday night!'. The advantage of campus was it was more neutral territory.

The Wednesday afternoon pizza party was at the same time as the TUU Societies Day and this led to the largest attendance of all 3 nights, but also the most transient and 'freeloading'. Our students and staff still worked hard to connect with people as best we can. But now that we know this is waht to expect, we will need to order a lot more pizza, and embrace this event as a hyrbid 'social connection' and 'free giveaway' event. We will definitely also deploy more staff and students to be ready to mingle at this event.

6. Public event in week 2

Our two main meetings are monthly: our monthly Citywide Gathering on Thursday evenings and our monthly Breakfast Sessions sermon on Tuesday mornings.
In previous years, we put both of these on in O Week, to begin with a bang. This year we moved Breakfast Sessions to Week 2, so that there was a public event to invite people to after O Week. The other advantage of this is that Tuesday 7:30am is too early into O Week to be a good invite event.
But Tuesday Week 2 was much better. Our first Breakfast Sessons of the year double from this time last year — so that was a good move!

7. Survey Results
And what were our survey results this year? Similar to last year. Click here to see the photos of the survey result charts on Facebook.

Mikey Lynch is one of the directors of Geneva Push and regularly sharing his thoughts here on this Christian Reflections blog.

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