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Over 600 people participated in the 2021-2022 Communication survey designed by the Desert Southwest Conference Commission on Communications. Research objectives for this survey were:

  • Determine growth opportunities for engagement and informing constituents.
  • Understand current and future constituent needs to identify gaps.
  • Understand current levels of constituent awareness and engagement.
  • Re-imagine our work moving forward to best meet constituent needs.

Implications

Here’s what we learned and how the results are influencing changes in communications. By July 1 we’ll have subject-specific newsletters that publish when new content is available for every DSC Committee, Commission, and Task Force. We’ll also publish a weekly digest of all the news from the week. The various newsletter options with subscription preferences are becoming available at https://dscumc.org/subscribe. We’ll have more news about this as all the changes are ready to implement.

Emailed newsletters and the dscumc.org website are considered the most valuable news sources but with so much content, the website has become difficult to find what you’re looking for. We’re excited to announce that we are already in the process of redesigning the dscumc.org website! As a reconciling ministry and resource of the local church, the new design showcases what we believe, inspires new people towards ministry in the Desert Southwest Conference, and includes increased accessibility features, all while making resources easier to find.

The survey showed social media seems to be perceived as less quality/trusted information. For that reason, consider the website and newsletters as the official news sources. We’re shifting our social media focus towards engaging with new people. That means you’ll find more sharable and inspirational items on Facebook and Instagram instead of distributing news articles through the DSCUMC Facebook Page. We continue to share applicable news in the topic-specific Facebook Groups. Check out all the Group options by clicking on Groups at https://www.facebook.com/dscumc/.

Personal relationships are the most trusted source. The Commission on Communications is working towards establishing a communication liaison at each church to ensure news and resources get routed to the appropriate persons at your church. Each week, I host a Zoom meeting with church communicators to share news, tips, and resources. If your church doesn’t have representation at either of these opportunities, contact me via email at to get set up.

The future of The UMC prompts many concerns. We’ll continue to provide content from The UMC and local DSC leaders as a shareable news resource for local church distribution. All articles published on the dscumc.org website and shared through our newsletters can be copied and pasted into church newsletters.

Survey Questions & Results

Question #1: We publish information through many social media channels so you get the news where you like to look for it. How often do you use the following?

Results: Text and Email are used most often; in fact, nearly three-fourths of respondents said they use them multiple times a day.

  • One out of 5 respondents say they use Facebook once a day.
  • Almost one-third say they use YouTube weekly.
  • Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Podcasts are not regularly used by this respondent group.

 

Question #2 People expect to see specific types of information in certain channels. Where do you get your information?

Results: Newsletters are the main channel respondents get information about the UMC, the DSC, and their local church. Non-church-related information comes from other sources as well as Facebook and Instagram.

 

Question #3: Tell us what you want from each source. What type of information is most valuable to you from the following sources?

Results: Respondents want a myriad of information from all the sources listed. There are some notable differences.

  • Inspirational Messages from the Episcopal Office. Less other types of messages.
  • Justice News & Resources more from Conference News and The UMC.
  • Mission News & Calls for Action more from Conference News and The UMC.
  • Ministry Ideas more from The UMC.
  • Leadership Development Resources more from District News.

 

Question #4: Please rank the following information sources about The United Methodist Church from 1 to 6, with 1 being the most trusted source and 6 being the least trusted source.

Results: Church staff are ranked highest as the most trusted source. This ranking is a full point higher than the next source. Personal connection means a lot.

 

Question #5: What’s the most valuable and least valuable of each communication channel below? Please click the drop-down boxes to select your answers.

Results: DSC Newsletter Email and DSC Newsletter Web Page are considered the most valuable communication channels, particularly for quality information. Social Media channels are much less often used and considered less valuable, particularly Twitter and YouTube.

 

Question #6: What is your biggest concern about the future of The United Methodist Church?

Results: Open-ended responses generated about 500 responses. Common themes are:

  • Aging Membership/Lack of focus on youth & children to grow the church
  • Refocus on discipleship/mission of the UMC
  • Better Leadership
  • Too much politics
  • Split/Schism/Divide
  • Acceptance and Inclusion
  • Survival of the church

 

Question #7: What needs to change in order to improve communications in the Desert Southwest Conference?

Results: Open-ended responses generated about 300 responses. Common themes are:

  • Some lack of awareness regarding what the DSC provides “I didn’t know there was a DSC newsletter.”
  • The desire for more connection across The UMC denominationally, the Conference, and the local church.
  • Conference website needs improvement; navigation issues cited.
  • Keep communication simple and focused.
  • More in-person visits and personal communication.
  • Less politics; more balanced.

 

Participant Demographics

Two-thirds of the people that completed the survey indicated they are white, females, over 60 years old, and retired. No respondents were under 30 years old and 8 out of 10 are over 60 years old. 99% of respondents indicated they speak English most often and 90% described their race/ethnic background as White or Caucasian. 66% said they are retired and one-third said they are employed (F/T or P/T).

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