Members Survey – Initial Findings

Huge thanks to everyone who completed the members’ survey in September. We achieved a response rate of almost 50%, with 101 completed surveys, which is excellent. Here we present some initial findings from the data, under four headings. A comprehensive report detailing the survey findings will be available in January.

Perceptions of ECOE

ECOE was seen in a very positive light by members. ECOE was associated with words like ‘community’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘local’ as well as characteristics such as ‘tenacious’, ‘ambitious’, ‘enterprising’ and ‘organised’. Over 90% expressed said that they were ‘extremely’ or ‘somewhat’ satisfied with the way ECOE has developed, mentioning specific details such as activity (e.g. ‘Done what they said they would do) and professionalism (e.g. ‘a well led, dynamic organisation’). Over 80% of participants said that they trusted ECOE ‘a great deal’ or ‘a lot’.

Future directions

There was strong support for ECOE to pursue more renewable energy projects in future. Solar PV was most strongly supported (61% strongly agree), with other forms of renewable energy such as hydro strongly supported (46% strongly agree) as well as participating in innovative trials (e.g. local power supply, 47% strongly agree). Social and political networking received strong support. 50% of members strongly agreed that ECOE should share expertise and experience with other community groups. 47% strongly agreed that ECOE should lobby MPs for energy policy change. Enabling reduction in fuel poverty and increase in energy conservation received strong support (44% strongly agree). The least supported option was for ECOE to sell electricity to local customers (21% strongly agree).

Communication and participation

Over 60% of members stay in touch with ECOE using email and newsletters and there was strong support for this to continue as the main mode of communication, with concise updates of news using bullet points highly valued. Few members participate in other ways (e.g. less than 10% attend events or AGMs). Responses suggest that this level of engagement is likely to continue, with many saying that living at a distance from Exeter (either elsewhere in the UK or abroad) or other commitments mean that greater participation was unlikely, even if many would ideally like to do so. It seems that email and newsletters will continue to be paramount in member communication, and that holding events at the weekend rather than weekday evenings might be worth a try over the coming year.

Characteristics of ECOE members

If survey respondents are similar to ECOE members generally, this suggests our members are an even mix of males and females, older in age (more than 60% aged over 55 years), with high levels of educational attainment (more than 80% with a University degree) and with left-leaning or ‘green’ politics.