St. Francis once wrote, “Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.”
Between May 11-18, 2014, the Franciscan Renewal Center (the “Casa”) surveyed members of the community – registered families, past guests of programs and retreats, and volunteers. The purpose was to assess interest in ans awareness of various elements of the Casa’s offering. A quantifiable measurement of these aspects can help the Casa community with long-range programmatic planning, assess interest in the mission, and provide a portrait of the “typical Casa member” that helps the Casa anticipate future community needs.
Survey respondents where predominantly Catholic (79%), a household with just one or two adults (90%), between the ages of 55-74 (74%), who have been attending the Casa for more than 5 years (89%).
- 31% have been attending the Casa for more than 20 years
- Only 12% of respondents have children under age 17 at home
- Of those with children, age ranges were evenly divided between 0-6 years, preteens aged 7-12 years, and teens aged 13-17 years old.
- 20% report that members of their household practice other faiths
People of other faiths are drawn to the Casa. Other faiths represented among survey respondents are: Anglican, Baptist, Congregational, Disciples of Christ, Episcopalian, Jewish, Lutheran, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Protestant, Russian Orthodox, Unitarian and Quaker.
Program Use & Awareness
Church and spiritual reflection are what draw people to the Casa, and the grounds are a significant part of the attraction. Although 82% come for mass and 56% for holy days, more than one-third (40%) come to walk the grounds. The gift shop also is a popular draw, attracting 35% of respondents at some point during the year. Slightly half (53%) come for programs, workshops or retreats. One third (32%) come to volunteer. Ranked in descending order, people turn to the Casa for the following:
- Mass (82%)
- Holy days (56%)
- Programs, workshops or retreats (53%)
- Walking the grounds (40%)
- Gift shop (35%)
- Volunteer activity (32%)
- Non-religious special event (22%)
- Spiritual direction (13%)
- Meeting or conference (11%)
- Counseling (8%)
Understanding of the Casa’s total offering is strong and accurate. Overall, there is a consistent feeling that all services that are part of the Casa’s current offering are important or “extremely important.” This held across all age groups who completed the survey, as well as Catholics and non-Catholics. Nearly all (99%) are aware of spiritual retreats, with 68% having attended one before and 52% planning on attending one within the next year. Awareness was lowest, but still high (87%), of licensed behavioral health counseling.
Respondents report that they stay up-to-date about the Casa via email (79%), the bulletin (74%), the website (52%), word of mouth (37%), mail at home (33%), and (32%) from live events. Social media is used regularly by 14% of respondents in order to follow Casa news and updates – up 4% from 2013. A preference for information from the Bulletin is up 9% from the previous year.
RENEWING LIVES Campaign
Awareness and understanding of the RENEWING LIVES Campaign has grown. According to survey respondents, 61% have heard of the RENEWING LIVES Campaign – up from 39% in 2013. Eighty percent believe they understand the Casa’s vision and expansion plans – up from 61% in 2013. Only 18% say they do not understand the Casa’s plans or have “unanswered questions,” down from 38% in 2013. This year 43% (up from 25% in 2013) report attending a “Discover the Vision” event, and 31% (up from 19%) have attended a “Vision Summit.”
Those who want to learn more about the RENEWING LIVES Campaign wish to be informed mostly through bulletin (61%), email (59%), and through pulpit announcements (34%). Face-to-face gatherings, such as Vision Summits, and direct mail sent to homes ranked lowest as preferred methods of communication. Again it is important to recognize that the sampled population received the survey through email and is ideally biased towards such means of communication.
Nearly 280 survey respondents offered additional comments about what they “like most” about the Casa and 169 complaints were shared in response to what people would “most like to see change” at the Casa.
Based on comments shared in those open-field questions of the survey, two programmatic needs stand out. First and similar to last year’s survey response, there is a desire for more diverse programming that is designed for children, preteens and teens, parents, young adults and professionals. In addition, some perceive the current programming as too “New Age” or “radical.” Some would like programming that teaches the basic tenants of the Catholic faith. The desire for more diverse programming – be it defined by philosophy or age group – was the top complaint (representing 18 out of 169 qualitative comments), ranking second only to the need for a larger church.
Next, respondents indicated that they would like liturgical music “to be a little more traditional and a little less showy.” Several comments indicated a desire for the choir to perform more often and professional musicians to sing less. There were 14 comments in all about music (provided in response to Q20 “What would you most like to see change?”) out of 169 comments received.
In all, compliments outnumbered complaints and were consistent with what Casa leadership knows now: people are attracted by the welcoming nature of the community, a friendly and non-judgmental Franciscan way, the serenity of the grounds, and the beauty of the liturgies and homilies.
“The serenity give me a place and time to shut out the business of my world and to concentrate on my connection with God.”
“The Casa motivates me to be more spiritual and focused away from self and instead on what is best for the common good.”
“Frequently we take out-of-town company to walk the grounds of the facility and do the labyrinth. Everyone we’ve taken comes away renewed.”
“I see actions that exhibit the non-judgmental inclusiveness that Jesus taught.”
“The Francisan Way is integrated into everything which has a strong connection to the Gospel message of love.”
“Liturgies are moving as well as the homilies”
“We like the welcoming atmosphere. Everyone is family to us. The community is very trusting and does not judge you. You are accepted where you are at.”
An online survey was issued to those who opt in to receive information from the Casa. Specifically, it was issued via 40 active email distribution lists, representing 3,897 email addresses. (Duplicates were removed prior to release.) Each survey contained a unique URL, allowing the recipient to complete the survey once and invalidating the link if it was forwarded to another person. In addition, a paper survey was made available to those who had technical difficulty with the online form.
Of the 3,897 individuals who were issued a survey, 3,764 were successfully delivered. The rate of delivery success improved over 2013 because of efforts to ensure more accurate and active email addresses were part of the distribution list. Of those who received and read the email (36.5%), the Casa received 393 fully completed* surveys – or a response rate of 28.4%. Typically, a response rate of 26% is expected for long-form surveys such as the 34-question questionnaire that the Casa issued. Partially completed surveys totaled 1,373, or a partial-response rate of nearly 100% from those who opened it the message. (A partial response is possible because not every question is mandatory.) Response was lower in 2014 vs 2013 due a shorter survey window and less promotion of the survey.
Response Rate 2013 vs 2014
||1,835 / 45.7%
||1,383 / 36.5%