Customer Spotlight: Carolina Raptor Center

In Huntersville, North Carolina, there is a 30-year-old institution focused on two things: helping rehabilitate injured raptors in a safe environment, and educating the public on raptors and taking care of their environment.

Carolina Raptor Center started, as many great organizations do, in a basement. Instead of a house basement, though, this organization started in the basement of a university biology department. There, injured raptors would arrive for treatment (and some started riding the elevator). As word spread of the care that the raptors were getting, more birds started arriving, and the organization quickly outgrew its original location. That’s when they moved to a large nature preserve where they could build aviaries for the birds that they found couldn’t always be easily released back into nature. As the organization grew, so did the outreach, and it soon became a full-blown raptor zoo with native and exotic bird species, a full slate of formal and informal programming and hands-on Natural History exhibits for the public.

Finding QuestionPro

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Image courtesy Carolina Raptor Center.

What does a raptor center have to do with QuestionPro?

Michele Houck, Associate Executive Director at Carolina Raptor Center met with me to explain. A couple of years ago, they learned about technology grants that Accenture was giving out around the country for organizations to purchase technology solutions. Carolina Raptor Center won one such grant and used it to create a dashboard for business processes. They had some grant money leftover, so they decided to start looking for survey software that they could use to support their feedback program. The most important feature of the software they wanted to use was the reporting: they needed to be able to extract data from the software for use in presentations and papers.

That’s where QuestionPro came in.

Michele gave QuestionPro a test drive and liked what she found. It was easy to use and gave them the reporting features they needed. So, Carolina Raptor Center took advantage of QuestionPro’s nonprofit sponsorship program and started using the product.

Phase 1: what triggers cognitive or emotional wonder?

The center originally started using QuestionPro to gather feedback in a straightforward fashion from visitors about their experience. This year, though, Carolina Raptor Center is running a larger research project with a big goal in mind: learning what inspires people to make a change in their behavior when it comes to how they treat their environment. This research is being done in phases; phase one is taking place right now and will run through the summer of 2015.

Here’s the plan: the center is asking volunteers to observe visitors at exhibits and programs and complete a quick survey about how the visitors interact with the information. The survey captures two types of wonder – cognitive, or the “I get it, now I want to learn more!” type of wonder; and emotional, or the wow factor that you feel when you learn about something cool. The goal is to determine what triggers each type of wonder and how they influence someone’s desire to change their behavior based on what they saw. For example, after seeing something really neat about how a raptor lives, are you more likely to be more aware of your carbon footprint?

Phase 2: digging deeper

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Beatrice flying for a crowd.
Image courtesy Carolina Raptor Center.

The next phase of the project is to ask visitors to complete a four-question, qualitative survey, either using a kiosk or in person with a volunteer. In this phase, respondents will be shown one of four pictures, then asked, “What do you see? What does that make you think about? What does that make you feel? What do you want to do based on how you’re feeling right now?”

The hope is that, at the end of the study, the center will be able to have a better idea of what inspires people to change their behavior, and what types of exhibits impact that behavior change. As Michele put it, “We aren’t just cool place to see cool birds. We want to actually change behavior and have an impact on our world.”

The results of their study will be shared with 30 science museums across the state and in a presentation at the next ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) meeting in Montreal next fall.

You can see why the reporting features for the software are so important!

Michele loves the fact that she doesn’t need to spend a lot of time formatting the reports. As an employee of a non-profit, she wears many hats on any given day, so she doesn’t have time to do lots of data and chart formatting. With QuestionPro, she’s able to extract the data she needs in a format that she can use for the presentations they’re already being asked to give to the various organizations interested in their research.

Michele’s top three

When asked about the top three things she likes about QuestionPro aside from the reports, Michele answered:

  1. You don’t have to be a sophisticated researcher to use the tool.
  2. The presentation of the software and the reports from the software are all a bit more serious than other software platforms – a huge bonus in the science community.
  3. You can brand your surveys with your own logos – another important feature for this organization.