The Freshwater Community Speaks: Reporting Back on CFA's Survey

Earlier this year, we asked our freshwater community to fill out a survey so we could learn more about you, what you’re doing, and what kinds of supports will best help you to meet your goals.

We thought we’d report the results of that survey so you too can learn about your freshwater peers and so we can publicly respond to your feedback.

Who answered the survey?

In total, we had 92 responses. 63% said they were affiliated with an organization. 38% said they supported us as both an individual and an organization, while the remaining 37% were not affiliated with an organization but supported us as individuals.



The majority of those who responded lived in B.C. and Ontario, but we had a few from the Maritimes, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories (represent!).


We live in a variety of different communities, from small to big! The largest number of you come from a smaller town (communities with populations between 5,000-50,000).  



Freshwater Alliance responds:

We already knew that many of our supporters are located in B.C. and Ontario. This is most likely because our on-the-ground staff are in B.C. and Ontario, so we know the most people there. Also, most of our campaigns and programming have had a large B.C. and Ontario focus. Nonetheless, we do want to do a better job of connecting with freshwater groups and advocates across the country. That’s one reason we are having our Living Waters Rally in Moncton, NB this year.

It was a bit of surprise to us that more than half of you (at least, those of you who answered the survey) live in communities with populations less than 50,000. We want to do a better job of being plugged into the contexts of where our supporters are, and we know that the social and political contexts in smaller towns are quite a bit different than big cities.

What kind of work do we do?

For those of you involved in organizations, we asked you to let us know what kind of areas of work you focussed on. There is a pretty diverse spread of activities that groups partake in within our network, but not surprisingly--for the vast majority of you--education and outreach plays a central role in your operations.


Our Challenges

Even though you do pretty amazing work, you still have your challenges. We asked you to choose the top three challenges to achieving your freshwater goals. These are top challenges, ranked from most to least bothersome.



Freshwater Alliance responds:

You said that capacity and influencing decision makers and the public are your biggest challenges. Helping you to overcome these challenges is something we’re dedicated to, and it’s why we’ve developed some of the resources we have like our free Introduction to Engagement Organizing video series. It’s also why we offer coaching and training services.

That being said, we can always do more. In the coming months, we’re going to work to develop more free resources that will help you address these challenges. In particular, we want to help the freshwater community to learn from each other’s experiences, challenges and successes. So, we’re working on developing more case studies. We’re also working on revamping our website to be a more accessible, easy-to-navigate resource library.  

We know that influencing decision-makers is a perennial challenge, and it’s even harder to do as a single organization. That’s why, increasingly, we are focussing on leading campaigns that many organizations can feed into. We’ve shifted more in this direction because we heard from you that you want an organization to take more leadership on issues that are important to you. Our Water BC, Lake Erie Alive and #NoWatersLeftBehind are three campaigns that the Freshwater Alliance team has been working on. E-mail us if you want to get more involved, or have other campaign ideas that you think we should take the lead on.


Assessing our resources and services

You said that our blog posts and webinar series were the resources/services that you most used, but a number of you have done trainings and come to our biennial Living Waters Rally as well.

You said our resources were, on the whole, pretty helpful. You gave us a score of just over 7 out of 10 on the ‘helpfulness’ scale. Not too shabby, but room for improvement!


We asked you what kind of things you’d like to learn more about in our blog and webinar series, and you gave us lots of suggestions. In particular, you said you’d like to learn more about the following:




Freshwater Alliance responds:

We were pretty excited to hear about some of your ideas for resources or webinars. We are not technical experts in some of these areas, but we know people who are. So, we think we can play a bigger role in helping to disseminate resources from organizations that are content experts--for example, from organizations who are doing a lot of groundbreaking work in watershed monitoring or green infrastructure--and bringing in guest writers and speakers.

We also asked you in the survey to share with us case studies that you’d like to share, and many of you gave us some great ideas. We will follow up those of you submitted ideas you’d like to share, and we will profile them on our website.

As we work to develop and expand our resources and content, we will keep these suggestions front-of-mind.

Other Feedback

We also asked you questions like how many of you had engaged in our campaigns (65% of have taken an action under at least one) and what kind of sessions you’d like to see in our upcoming Living Waters Rally in Moncton, NB. We compiled your wishlist and sent it to our organizing committee, so expect to see lots of those ideas featured in the agenda.

Thank you so much for taking the time to give us feedback. Your input helps us to ensure our work is relevant, engaging and useful in helping to build a movement of skilled and savvy freshwater defenders.