The results of the Boy Scouts of America Fall 2013 Voice of the Scout survey have been published in this executive summary and infographic. You can also access the published results of all VoS surveys.
How it Works
A Voice of the Scout (VoS) survey is conducted every six months. Invitations are emailed to seven different audiences (Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts/Ventures, Cub Scout Parents, Boy Scout /Venture Parents, Youth Facing Volunteers, District/Council Volunteers, Chartered Organizations.) It’s my understanding that different segments of these seven audiences are chosen for each survey, but I have no idea how or why those choices are made.
Survey results result in a metric called the “Net Promoter Score”(NPS). The NPS reflects the likelihood that respondents would recommend Scouting to their friends and family. Respondents are asked to rate their likelihood of recommending Scouting to others on a scale of zero to ten. Zero being not at all likely and ten being very likely.
“Promoters” are those responding with a 9 or 10. “Passively Satisfied” answer 7 or 8, “Detractors” answer 0-6.
The number of Detractors is subtracted from the number of Promoters resulting in the Net Promoter Score (NPS).
So what does the NPS score mean? Why does it matter? NPS scoring is a common technique used to gauge customer loyalty and satisfaction, it’s actually a pretty big deal in the marketing world. But the NPS is just a part of the story.
Closing the Loop
After people are asked to score their likelihood of recommending Scouting they are asked why they gave that score. The comments ‘close the loop’ they give direct, actionable, feedback that can then be analyzed to identify key issues that effect the way people are perceiving the organization.
Fall 2103 VoS Results
The fall 2013 survey received 100,511 responses from seven audience segments during the survey period – September 23 to October 19.
While the survey is called the “Voice of the Scout“, youth members (Cubs, Scouts and Venturers) represent just 9.44% of the total respondents. One way of looking at the survey is dividing the respondents into two basic groups: program delivery (youth-facing, district and council volunteers) and program recipients (Cubs, Scouts, Venturers, their parents and chartering organizations). Program recipients represent 25% of those who responded to the survey.
The overall NPS score and the scores from the program delivery groups:
I am concerned that the NPS has dropped in all four surveys since Spring 2012. I’d weigh the opinion of the program recipients as more telling of the state of things:
The sharpest drop in NPS are Scouts and Venturers (-16%), and their parents (-21%). Exactly what has caused the drop in scores is not clearly analyzed. The executive summary and infographic quote very few actual responses. I’d like the opportunity to see a more raw data and an in-depth analysis of why we are witnessing this change. Much more information was released after past VoS surveys (perhaps more is forthcoming for the fall 2013 survey?)
These two statements from the executive summary imply that the issues they mention had a significant impact, but the implication is not supported by any evidence. I’d like to see more.
The timing (of the survey) is noteworthy as it followed the vote to change the membership policy for youth only and the announcement of a membership fee increase. … This fall, after the decision to change the membership policy, members continued to show their support of Scouting and strongly believe that it benefits youth, although most loyalty scores declined.
Replies reflect reposndents are loyal to, understand, and enjoy Scouting. This is consistent with past VoS results.
The results reaffirmed that Scouting provides beneficial activities youth enjoy and opportunities for adults to positively impact the lives of youth. The top drivers of Cub Scout loyalty are about the experience, with 90 percent agreeing that “Cub Scouting is really fun.” For Cub Scout parents, nearly 90 percent agreed that they “appreciate the opportunity to participate with my son in Scouting.”
The primary loyalty driver for Boy Scouts and Venturers is “My parents are very supportive of the Scouting program,” with 89 percent of youth agreeing with this statement. More than 85 percent of Boy Scout and Venturer parents believed that “Scouting provides the activities my son enjoys.”
The primary loyalty drivers for youth-facing volunteers continues to be “I understand the unique benefits that Scouting provides to today’s youth” with 88 percent agreement. District and council volunteers echo that sentiment with 90 percent agreeing that “I understand the unique benefits that the Scouting program provides for today’s youth.” Chartered organizations felt that “Scouting has provided a way for my organization to make an impact in the lives of youth,” with 84 percent agreement.
It’s no great surprise that, while loyalty to, appreciation of, and understanding of Scouting remains strong, the delivery of Scouting needs some work:
Based on the results, the expectations of volunteers, chartered organizations, youth, and parents are not always being met.
- Only slightly more than half of Cub Scout parents indicated that their son learns skills in Scouting that he could not learn anywhere else.
- For Boy Scouts and Venturers, 52 percent agreed with the statement that “Our meetings are a good use of my time.”
- Nearly one-third of youth-facing volunteers believed that roundtables help them become a more effective leader.
- Fewer than half of district and council volunteers agree with the second main loyalty driver, “I feel the council today is very responsive to Scout volunteers’ needs.”
- About 53 percent of chartered organizations agreed with the statement: “I am satisfied with the amount of interaction between the council and our organization.”
Even though we didn’t have a survey like this ten or twenty years ago I’d guess the answers would be about the same if we did. These are perennial issues and there’s no permanent fix, just constant vigilance and improving how we do things.
Is there any way we volunteers can effectively respond to these findings? How are the findings being used to examine and improve the way we do things above the unit level? Without more information these remain open questions.
Keeping in mind that the VoS is has only been through two complete cycles (2012 and 2013), it’s not yet clear how useful it will ultimately become. I cannot help but thing that releasing more of the information gathered would better equip volunteers to make progress.
What’s really important is our national organization is asking questions and listening to the replies. Exactly what those replies are and how we act on what we hear has always been, and will always be, a matter for debate and argument. Once again I would appreciate a more through, in-depth analysis of the survey results (and this may be forthcoming, I don’t really know).
Surveys are useful but no matter how carefully we design them or how throughly we study the results, they can only give us a generalized idea of what is actually going on.
We do know our volunteers have a profound influence on the lives of hundred’s of thousands of Scouts who clearly love the idea of Scouting. We know that training, study, and continuous improvement on our part as Scouters is crucial to tapping the potential of Scouting.
We should never lose sight of the idea that Scouting happens one Scout at a time and serving the Scouts trusted to our care is where we do the most good.