Our community is growing and shifting as open contracting takes hold in more regions and sectors. Together, we’ve worked to reach new heights in impact and scale as we reimagine public procurement, and implement lessons from the pandemic as it continues to impact our lives.
The inspiring amount of participation in the 2021 community survey alone—a record 448 responses from across 6 continents and 70 countries—shows us that you are eager to engage with us and join forces with your peers. With a nearly 50:50 gender balance and more diverse representation across regions, languages, roles, and experience than ever before, OCP is excited to act on your feedback, and bridge the gap between learning about open contracting and using it to achieve your goals, as our directors write in our kick-off blog for 2022. We heard you, and we recognize the many (sometimes unpredictable) barriers to reform. We care about delivering better outcomes for all, and are ready to go deeper in our collaborations this year to help you feel more empowered to reach impact.
What we also heard is a continued demand for community, connection, and collaboration at both a local and global scale. In this blog, I want to share what this growth and change means for building a stronger community in 2022.
A stronger sense of belonging, even as we grow
In 2021, we ramped up community engagement by bringing in new regions, focusing on women and other underrepresented groups, and working as a facilitator to connect you to your peers for problem-solving and support. We saw a positive response to these approaches throughout the year, but in the survey you also told us that the sense of connection that you feel to the wider open contracting community has lowered since 2020, from 7.2 to 6.8 (out of 10). Some of this may be attributed to the fact that we still haven’t been able to meet in person. And as we have expanded our reach and heard from newer partners (this was our goal!) some folks are just starting to develop a meaningful connection to us and the wider community. Ultimately, this feedback gives us the push we need to think hard about how to create an inclusive environment that meets the diverse needs of a growing community.
We also refreshed our webinars, newsletter, Community webpage, and social media channels, and updated our targets to better measure progress. Surprising to us, we saw ratings drop on some of these community resources, so we will be revisiting those to make sure we meet the right needs and are sharing outputs that you really want to engage with.
Local and regional activity that breaks the virtual barrier
When we asked which kinds of community building activities partners would be most excited to join in 2022, over 70% of you shared that you would look most forward to regional, in-person events and conferences—health and safety permitting, of course. We are too! We can’t wait to join you at your events this year and, Covid permitting, will be working with you to host some of our own.
Small, local workshops and training were close behind in votes, with 64% of you selecting it as a priority activity. This is feedback that we have received throughout the year, and we accordingly renewed our focus on local, regional and targeted community building in the 2021 strategy refresh. The survey results serve as even stronger evidence that this is an essential shift you want to see.
The survey showed us that the composition of the community itself is also shifting towards regional connections. Representation from local civil society rose 10% from last year, making up nearly one third of total participants in 2021. Meanwhile, international NGOs went from 23% in 2020 down to 16% this year. We are excited about this growth in our locally-rooted communities, and this will push us harder to tailor our guidance. With a team of program managers working on the ground across the globe, we will make sure that our work adapts to meet the different needs within each region.
A few new ideas for community building in 2022
So, how do we plan to build an inclusive global community while equally strengthening local connections? We have a few ideas up our sleeve, including an updated, monthly champions spotlight that invites you to share who you feel inspired by in our community all year long. We have met so many amazing people who work on public procurement and who have overcome serious barriers to reform. Just like we did with our 2021 champions campaign, we want to lift you up, connect you, and empower even more community members to be champions. We also look forward to hosting local in-person events (fingers crossed!) and want to reach even more partners through self-service tools and an online learning platform (keep an eye out for Open Contracting School 2022).
Most importantly, our key goal is to help to support the reforms in countries to make change happen. You told us that coalition building is instrumental to achieve your goals, so we want to help you to foster strong local partnerships by connecting you around shared goals, reform campaigns, and advocacy. For example—forever inspired by the DoZorro community in Ukraine—we hope to support civil society actors at the country-level within several regions who are working on similar civic monitoring initiatives.
While this is all early thinking, we hope to hear your thoughts and work with you to make these a reality.
The annual survey is one of my favorite parts of my job as the Senior Community Building Manager, and it has been a joy digging into the rich feedback you provided us. With your help we can better understand how to support an engaged, empowered, and self-sustaining community of open contracting practitioners and enthusiasts. And our Executive Director Gavin Hayman said it best: “As ever, our community gives back to us in abundance”. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, and I look forward to bringing us all together in new and exciting ways in 2022.
Have some bold community-building ideas of your own? Connect with me via email or my virtual office-hours each week!