Project Connect

Needs Assessment Survey Results


What is it?

The Needs Assessment Survey was developed by the Sub-Committee of the Advisory Council with input from executives of area non-profit agencies. It focused on providing the following information:

366 surveys were mailed to non-profit organizations which serve the residents of Summit County. 115 surveys (31%) were returned as of April 8, 1999.

Of those who returned the surveys, 74% were interested in participating, 6% were not interested, and 12% were uncertain (8% did not answer the question).

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Who are they?

51% of the organizations which are interested in participating in Project Connect have an overall budget less than $500,000, and 45% have an overall budget more than $500,000. (5% of those interested did not answer this question.)

45% of those interested are human service agencies, 22% have an education mission, and 15% provide health care services and/or information.

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What are their plans?

52% of the respondents have no technology budget. Of these, 32% want assistance in developing one. Surprisingly, 62% of those with no technology budget do not want assistance.

Of those 42% of the respondents who have plans for a technology budget, 40% need assistance in developing it.

34% of the respondents indicate that their marketing budget includes high-tech tools, while 35% say that their budget does not include these tools.

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What can the agencies do?

Surprisingly, although 71% of the respondents have internet access at work, only 65% indicate that they use e-mail to communicate with their constituencies. This correlates to only 85% of those with internet access at work use e-mail.

In addition, 9% of the respondents use bulletin boards and 6% use listserves.

53% of the respondents indicate that they plan to increase their technology capabilities within the next year, and 67% of these would like assistance in doing so.

39% of the respondents plan on increasing the number of staff who use computers, and 49% would like assistance in training their staff to use computers.

36% of the organizations indicate that staff do not use a computer because it is not appropriate to their responsibilities. However, 24% identify that lack of computer equipment is a barrier, and 23% cite lack of computer skill. These are areas in which Project Connect can greatly assist these organizations.

90% of the respondents indicate that they use the PC/Windows platforms. Of those which marked another platform (e.g., Macintosh, UNIX, AS400), only 3 indicated that they did not also use PC/Windows (two used Macintosh only, and the other used MS-DOS).

Only 37% of the respondents felt that they had adequate computer equipment, and 37% had a replacement plan in place for computers older than 3 years.

The majority of organizations (38%) indicate that an informally trained employee manages their computer systems. 12% have IS departments, and 23% have arrangements with telephone or on-site contracted services. 6% said that no support was available. Only 43% of the respondents felt that they had adequate support to meet their needs. Many indicated that better trained employees, additional staff, and additional equipment would help their current situations.

There were no surprises in the types of applications that non-profit employees use. Word processing is the most frequently used (90%), followed by spreadsheets (75%), databases (63%), financial packages (61%), and web browsers (53%). Respondents wanted to increase usage of presentation software (21%), client record management (19%), and electronic submission of reports, billing, proposals, etc. (19%).

Only 48% of the respondents have some type of network (the computers are either networked to each other or to a server). Only 37% believe that the current network meets their needs, and 47% plan on installing/upgrading the network. 66% of those which feel that their network is inadequate to meet their needs would like assistance in installing/upgrading the network.

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Are they on the web?

18% of the respondents do not have internet access at work, and only 62% of these plan to get it in the near future. 38% of those without internet access would like assistance in getting it.

45% of the respondents have websites, yet only 40% of them use websites to communicate with their constituencies. In other words, 13% of the organizations with websites do not use them as a communication tool. 12% of those with web-sites do not use e-mail.

46% of the respondents do not have a website. The majority of these cited priority of business issues (28%), lack of funding (23%), and lack of staff (21%) as barriers.

48% of the existing websites were developed by employees, 40% by contracted services, and 38% by volunteers.

Of those organizations with websites, 45% are not satisfied with the content, 44% are not satisfied with the responses, 31% have unsatisfactory support, and 42% are unsatisfied with the update schedule.

The majority of respondents indicated that the website is updated as needed or on a monthly basis. Many said that it is not updated at all, adding comments that they would like to bring the website development in-house so that this can be more easily controlled.

Many websites focus on providing information about the agency and announcing events, although respondents would like them to include interactive features such as answering questions, publishing an on-line newsletter, recruiting staff and volunteers, and encouraging electronic feedback.

What advantages can a website offer a non-profit organization? Better communications, more exposure, and greater outreach to clients (especially clients with disabilities) are important. Others sited educating unlimited number of people, linking to other organizations, and recruiting volunteers. Improving service to clients and having better access to information were also mentioned.

Non-profits see disadvantages to supporting websites. First and foremost, they are wary of the staff, time, and resources needed to maintain and update the site. In addition, they do not believe their clients use computers.

Organizations want a variety of constituents to visit their sites, including prospective clients, other community agencies, and the general community. The majority of organizations publicize their websites in their agency literature (most site newsletters) and advertising.

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What are their training needs?

Training is a high priority of the respondents. It is apparent from the results that non-profit organizations rely on staff training each other (57%). Many send their staff to local training seminars (35%), while others focus on books and trade magazines to meet their training needs (20%). Only 26% of the respondents felt that their staff gets adequate training, and 76% are, or may be, interested in enrolling their staff in Project Connects training seminars.

Of those interested in enrolling their staff in these seminars, the course preferences are:






word processing


database applications


presentation software


graphic design


website authoring


introduction to computers


fund-raising applications


introduction to the internet


client record management


electronic submission of reports, etc.


financial applications


Year 2000 issues (Y2K)


interoffice e-mail


scheduling/personal information



61% of the respondents pay from training from their operating budgets, while 35% rely on grants. 14% use personal purchases to support their organization.

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Are they interested in participating in Project Connect?

74% of the respondents would like to participate in the project, while 12% are uncertain. 6% are not interested in the project, and 8% did not answer the question.

61% cite lack of funding as a barrier to increasing technological capabilities, while lack of training time (45%) and priority of other business issues (39%) are also barriers.

However, the respondents do see significant benefits that increased technology can bring to their organizations. Many agree that increased efficiency and reduced duplication will result, as will better and quick communications. Many cite accuracy and completeness of data, more exposure and marketing opportunities, and better support to clients.

What assistance would they like? First and foremost is training for staff and volunteers. Of those which answered this question, the specified assistance was as follows:

68% training
41% equipment/software funding assistance
33% technical support
21% website development/management support.

When identifying priorities, organizations indicated staff training, acquiring equipment, budgeting and planning technology improvements, and getting access to technical support.

Many organizations ranked Y2K issues as very high (50% ranked it 1, 2, or 3).

What do they hope to accomplish through their participation in Project Connect? A better trained staff is their first objective, followed by better/updated equipment and a new or updated website. Many hope to increase the agencys ability to understand and utilize technology. Others want to network with other agencies to obtain better access to resources. Computerized client record management is important, as is increased efficiency and reduced duplication. Better communications and client support, as well as mission fulfillment, are foreseeable advantages to improving the technology and connectivity of area non-profit organizations.

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Do you have questions about the survey?

If you have questions about the survey, or would like to comment on the results, please e-mail or call Jacquie Skrzypiec at 330-762-5627.


Click here to complete your own survey!


Project Connect Membership Program & Services


Electronic Newsletter


Remote Advantage Plan


Online Resources


Advisory Council


About Project Connect


Training Calendar


List of Training Classes


Other Computer Training Options


Curricula Subscription Program


Project Connect Members


Program Brochure


RAP Brochure


TechAtlas: Online Tech Planning


Technology Standards for Non-Profit Organizations


Computer Purchasing Guidelines


Links to Other Websites

Project Connect is partially funded by the GAR Foundation, the Akron Community Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation, the Corbin Foundation, the Sisler McFawn Foundation, Northern Ohio Golf Charities, Community Technology Fund of Ohio,   and the Verizon Foundation. If you would like to support our efforts, please contact Jacquie Skrzypiec, Project Manager, at 330-315-1335 or .


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