Community Voices: Results from the 2021 NumFOCUS Community Survey
Earlier this month NumFOCUS concluded our 2021 Community Survey. As in previous years, we sought feedback from our community members on topics ranging from the use of our Sponsored Projects to interest in volunteering with NumFOCUS to financial support. Thank you to those of you who responded!
NumFOCUS intends for our annual Community Survey to be an opportunity for our community members to anonymously and honestly provide their input on various aspects of our work. More than 400 individuals completed the 2021 survey. While this is more than twice the number of respondents as 2020, we recognize that with a population sample of this size (and a method which relies on voluntary response), the results of this survey may be extrapolated to a certain extent.
Nonetheless, we carefully review the responses we receive to identify common themes and trends from year to year.
Data from the survey results may be found here. By way of analysis, we’ve identified three points of interest which we believe are worth sharing:
Our community of users and developers firmly believes in corporate support for our open source Projects.
We asked respondents to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the statement “I believe it is important for corporate users of open source software tools to support the development and sustainability of those tools with monetary donations/sponsorships.” Ninety percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed, and nearly the same number agreed that sponsoring NumFOCUS is a good way for companies to make that investment.
We also worked with one of our corporate sponsors, Tesco Technology, to try to gauge the perception of our sponsors among our community members. When asked “Has your opinion of Tesco Technology changed since having learned they sponsored the NumFOCUS 2020 year-end fundraiser?”, 66% reported their opinion of Tesco Technology had improved. While just one example, we feel that this nevertheless indicates the esteem in which our community holds the decision by a corporation to give back to the open source scientific tools they use each day.
Community members remain interested in engaging with NumFOCUS and contributing to our work but might benefit from a clearer understanding of our volunteer opportunities.
A plurality of respondents (42%) indicated interest in volunteering with NumFOCUS in 2021, while another 35% reported that they had not yet decided. PyData continues to be the most popular area of interest for prospective volunteers.
As the next section suggests, our team can continue to improve how we communicate the impact of our programs. Among other things, this will help to clarify the role that our volunteers play and demonstrate how valuable they are to our work. We will have more information along these lines in the coming months. Follow our blog here to stay updated!
NumFOCUS still has work to do to educate our community on our impact.
While roughly two thirds of respondents indicated that they understood or well-understood our mission and purpose early in the survey, subsequent questions revealed a more nuanced understanding of NumFOCUS. Regarding familiarity with our programs, PyData ranked highest with 70% of respondents reporting understanding, but none of our other programs broke 25%. Additionally, among respondents who reported that they had not made a donation in the past 12 months, a handful offered anecdotes similar to the following response: “Not sure I fully understand where the money goes.”
Over the past year, NumFOCUS has made great strides toward greater transparency around the support we receive, and we’ve worked to better communicate our value to the open source scientific computing community. In October, we received Silver Seal recognition from GuideStar for the measures we’ve taken in the areas of organizational transparency and accountability. Also, especially since the launch of our Open Science Champions program last July, we’ve worked to clarify the importance of individual community members to our network of support.
We can, however, always do better. Confidence in NumFOCUS among users and developers of our open source Projects is crucial to our success, and we strive to provide our supporters and volunteers with the best possible experience. We appreciate the feedback that you’ve offered us, and we will incorporate your opinions and suggestions as we move forward.
Want to support our work? Donate to NumFOCUS today!