CASE STUDY: A non-profit seeks member feedback on a key discussion paper
Updated: Sep 16, 2021
A non-profit member alliance needed to galvanise a well-informed, united advocacy front on the health impacts of climate change in the run up to the federal election.
Members gave feedback on a pivotal discussion paper using Plaetos online forums.
It saved them thousands of dollars and weeks of time that would have been spent conducting surveys, face-to-face sessions and calling for written submissions.
The Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA) is an Australian not-for-profit organisation with 30 organisational members under its alliance banner. A federal election was looming, and the alliance needed to consult with its diverse membership on policy development to present a well-informed and united advocacy front on the health impacts of climate change. CAHA wanted member feedback on a pivotal discussion paper that would form the basis of their lobbying campaign in the run up to the election. The timing also gave CAHA leadership the opportunity to galvanise members’ efforts ahead of a concerted campaign to influence policy in time for a major meeting with health ministers.
CAHA had previously consulted members by:
Surveying them about answers to CAHA executive-nominated questions;
Attending face-to-face feedback sessions and day-long workshops at regular intervals on specific topics, and;
Calling for written submissions over the email database and through social media.
Getting engagement from time-poor members was difficult, costly and time-consuming, requiring the small executive team to set up feedback sessions in the nation’s major capital cities and hope that members could find the time to participate. Surveys and submissions had better results, but responses tended to come from members with better resources, and did not necessarily reflect the spectrum of views from the membership. Processing all of the feedback from workshops, survey and written submission was a major impost on time and cash-poor executives.
CAHA invited all of its members to join a Plaetos forum to provide feedback on the draft discussion paper. 118 members and other interested organisations registered to participate, notably more than had been achieved in past face-to-face consultations. The forum was set up with conversations in six discussion threads to focus participant feedback over the seven-day consultation. The CAHA Executive Director co-moderated the forum with Plaetos facilitators. Those who registered were able to exchange scientific and political perspectives about focused key questions from the discussion paper. There was no venue hire, no catering, and no plane travel required.
Greater participation Compared to face-to-face consultations, more members were included in developing a major policy platform through using Plaetos online forums. This meant more diverse input and greater access to more ideas and perspectives on the discussion paper. Not only was using Plaetos novel and innovative, it also enabled leadership to hear from everyone equally. Ease of use CAHA members were able to contribute to their organisation’s policy development online without leaving their desks, and through conversation with other members, rather than by time-fixed workshop, written submission or email to the Executive Director. Money and time saved CAHA saved more than six weeks’ time in organising, travelling and conducting face-to-face sessions. No venue hire, flights, accommodation or catering costs were required, saving cost and carbon - a particularly big driver for CAHA. Because Plaetos uses advanced text analysis, the online discussion was held, analyzed and the Forum Report delivered to the CAHA board within three weeks, as opposed to three months.
“The forum is fantastic and useful in that it allows us to use the nooks and crannies of time available to contribute, as well as bring in a wider range of voices and skills.” —Plaetos Forum Participant
PLAETOS HELPED US BRING TOGETHER THE HEALTH SECTOR
Consultation through Plaetos showed the majority of healthcare stakeholders considered current climate policies to be ineffective. The feedback contributed to CAHA’s Framework for a National Strategy on Climate, Health and Well-being that was launched prior to the federal election campaign, and was presented to parliamentarians as part of their advocacy for action on climate and health.
“Our members are passionate but time poor. With Plaetos, they got to talk freely and often. It gave me easy access to different points of view and saved weeks of time.” —Fiona Armstrong, Executive Director, CAHA
(*CAHA was a trial customer and the platform and services were provided pro bono)