March’s Community Call Recap – What makes a great ambassador program?

On this month’s Community Call, two project teams from the CSCCE Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP) shared their research into what makes a great ambassador program and how we as scientific community engagement managers can support the members of our communities who volunteer to take part.

Ambassador Programs Slide
March’s community call focused on ambassador programs in science. Image credit: CSCCE

What is an ambassador program?

To advance the mission of the community with which they’re working, community managers often turn to ambassador programs. Also known as community champions or fellows, these more engaged users can help with beta testing, advocating for the community’s work, recruiting new members, launching specialized projects or other specific activities.

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March’s Community call – community ambassador programs

Our next CSCCE Community Call is on Wednesday 18th March at 2pm Eastern. Join us to discuss the outputs of two of the community engagement fellows program (CEFP) projects about community ambassador programs.

After the presentations there will be time to ask questions and learn from others who’ve launched and/or managed ambassador programs.

Join us for March’s community call on ambassador programs in science. Image credit: CSCCE

Community ambassador programs

To advance the mission of the community with which they’re working, community managers often turn to ambassador programs. Also known as community champions or fellows, these more engaged users can help with beta testing, advocating for the community’s work, recruiting new members, launching specialized projects or other specific activities.

Nurturing a successful ambassador program can be a helpful way to scale your community’s activities – but what does running such a program involve? How should you recruit your ambassadors? And what motivates them to participate and stay engaged? Join us in March’s community call to explore some of the data about what these programs look like in science.

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Community champions programs

Once your community has begun to grow it’s likely that you’re going to need help from community members in running local events, working groups, technical workshops or other “community champion” activities that support the overall success of the community. But where do you start when planning for these activities?

Guidebooks, reports, and survey results

What are community champions?

Community champions are emergent leaders – members of a community who wish to take on additional activities in support of the community. Usually, to successfully support these individuals community managers organize a program in which the champions may alternatively be called fellows, ambassadors, or advocates.

To learn more generally about why champions are necessary for community success, check out the CSCCE Community Participation Guide which describes the CHAMPION mode in more detail.

The CSCCE Community Participation Model: A framework to describe member engagement and information flow in STEM communities

by Lou Woodley and Katie Pratt

August 26, 2020

The CSCCE Community Participation Model describes four modes of member engagement that can occur within a community and one that can occur outside of it. This guidebook is intended to help you use the model to inform your community member engagement strategy.

What do community champion programs look like?

In 2017, the Advocacy Ninjas CEFP project team comprised of Stephanie O’Donnell, Heidi Olds, Allen Pope, Gabrielle Rabinowitz and Rosanna Volchok created a survey to better understand what champion programs (at the time, they referred to them as advocacy programs) look like within scientific communities.

They collected data from 37 scientific community managers who work at academic, non-profit, industry, and government sector organizations. They asked 22 questions that addressed the following areas:

  1. Overall Community and Membership Characteristics
  2. Advocacy Program Characteristics
  3. Recruitment for Advocacy Program
  4. Incentives and Support for Advocacy Program
  5. Success Metrics for Advocacy Program

They found, among other things: Older programs had the biggest budgets while newer programs offered more incentives for involvement; Program size, community size, and resources may be correlated; And some program characteristics hold similar across various budget sizes, while low budget programs tend to represent smaller communities with fewer internal resources.

For an overview of the project, watch this presentation from co-authors Rosanna Volchok and Allen Pope:

Download the full report:

Ambassadors, Champions, Fellows, and More: What defines success in scientific community Advocacy Programs?

by Rebecca Aicher, Melanie Binder, Heidi Laješić, Stephanie O’Donnell, Allen Pope, Gabrielle Rabinowitz, Rosanna Volchok, and Lou Woodley

September 18, 2020

This report presents data on the scope, characteristics and efficacy of ambassador programs in STEM, which was collected and analyzed by the CSCCE CEFP "Advocacy Ninjas" Project Team.

What motivates community champions or super-users?

The Busy Bees project team of the CEFP2019 cohort comprised of Toby Hodges, Naomi Penfold and Kathryne Woodle with support from Lou Woodley, created a survey to better understand the motivations of community super-users or ambassadors (which we now refer to as champions). You can learn more about the project from this presentation during the March 2020 community call.

Blog posts

Additional CSCCE resources

Resources for reuse

CSCCE staff have produced various guidelines and how to guides to support community champions within the CSCCE community of practice. The following resources are licensed CC BY and are available for reuse with attribution. We intend to share more resources in 2021 as our working group (see below) comes together.

Community champions working group

CSCCE has a newly-launched community champions programs working group. To find out more about the group, please drop us an email: info@cscce.org.

Understanding the Advocacy and Ambassador Program Landscape

In the latest post by out Community Engagement Fellows, CEFP2017 fellows Melanie Binder and Rosanna Volchok catch us up on what their project team has been doing to better understand the current landscape of community advocate programs in science and technology. Posted by Melanie Binder, Community Engagement Manager and Social Media Coordinator for the American … Continue reading “Understanding the Advocacy and Ambassador Program Landscape”

In the latest post by out Community Engagement Fellows, CEFP2017 fellows Melanie Binder and Rosanna Volchok catch us up on what their project team has been doing to better understand the current landscape of community advocate programs in science and technology.

Posted by Melanie Binder, Community Engagement Manager and Social Media Coordinator for the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB), and Rosanna Volchok, Network Engagement Manager at the New York Academy of Sciences

Two men holding cameras walk through a field. One points ahead
Explorers” by Darren Flinders under CC BY 2.0

The goal of our CEFP project team is to gain a stronger understanding of what makes a successful advocacy/ambassador program for scientific communities. As a follow up on Allen’s blog post describing who we, the Advocacy Ninjas, are this post provides an update on what we have been working on since then.

One of the initial challenges we faced as a team was deciding on the final output and format of our research findings. For example, did we want to publish a paper, produce a report, or present at a conference? Once we chose the final format–a detailed report with a scorecard and case studies–then it was time to get to work on a survey that, ideally, would address our two main research questions:

  1. What do community advocacy/ambassador programs in science and tech look like?
  2. What makes these programs successful?

Continue reading “Understanding the Advocacy and Ambassador Program Landscape”