RPG Research Volunteers Making Lives Better Worldwide!
Catching up to an amazing year of research and community cooperative music and role-playing game programs growth and success! Preparing to go to the next level in 2021 and 2022!
Thanks to donors and volunteers like you, RPG Research continues to experience outstanding success growing research results and providing community benefits, using cooperative music and role-playing games to improve the lives of thousands of people around the world, from two years old through senior adults, and many diverse populations in between!
Year after year, RPG Research has been experiencing terrific growth and improvement thanks to such amazing volunteers, donors, researchers, universities, and community partnerships. As elaborated in an earlier posting, we experienced triple-digit growth in 2020!
While still humble, our staffing, community programs, content releases, and fundraising all grew each year by percentages in the triple digits in 2018, 2019, and 2020!
As planned during our year-end board meeting, we have been spending January and February (and through to March), catching our breath from the whirlwind last year. We are still running our many training and community programs each week, but at a less frenetic pace.
We are taking time to focus on growing our staffing, especially administrative volunteers, and improving our infrastructure, to adjust and prepare for even more amazing years ahead.
We are intentionally going to attempt slowing down our growth rate in 2021, but with your support we will continue to grow and help the lives of many thousands more!
We have received more than 400 applications from volunteers in the past month offering to help fill the critical volunteer roles necessary for our research and community programs helping improve lives across 6 continents.
Our small team of volunteer administrative staff are trying to catch up with the applications as quickly as possible, so don't be surprised if it takes us a few weeks to respond to your application. We are still catching up on some applications, scheduling many interviews per week. We have many that are already in the onboarding process.
These wonderful volunteers are helping fill in many of the administrative roles we've been "getting by" without (putting most of the administrative burden on the core staff consisting of: Hawke, John, Danielle, Brooke, & Kate for several years). In order to grow further, it is now time to address this so our core staff can focus once again on what they do best, in each of their areas of expertise, moving RPG Research further forward.
To see the list of our volunteer staff, check out our About Us page. This is updated as new people join.
In 2020, with so much growth, serving more than 30,000 people across the world through our efforts, this caught up with us. Our core staff were exhausted.
So in December 2020 we planned at the beginning of 2021 to focus on shoring up our (still 100% volunteer) administrative staff to prepare for the next big step in our growth.
Annually Improving Focus
We cover a lot of different areas with a wide variety of populations, programs, and approaches. They all tie together back to our core Vision and Mission statements, but each year we assess, plan, implement, and evaluate, to make sure we are on track and providing the most effective research and programs we can.
At RPG Research, Community and Research Are Connected
Our community programs feed back into the core research and raising the body of knowledge shared openly with the public.
We are intentionally slowing things down this year to focus on:
Raising sufficient funds (or direct facility donation) to acquire a warehouse facility with a minimum of 2,000 to 4,000+ sq. ft. of usable space. Raising at least $30k is enough for 1 year's typical rent for our daily online and on-site operations, online/on-site community programs, experiential online/on-site museum, and online/on-site research projects.
Cleaning up and organizing our scattered research archives repositories, back into one easy to use free and open repository (currently more than 10,000 content items scattered across 4 locations). Very little financial cost for the open source hosting. Extensive volunteer hours needed to update these systems.
Bring the RPG Museum online for the public (work began in the summer of 2020 with the wonderful donation of the extensive materials (more than 1,000 pounds!, see the boxes in photo below) from Paul Cardwell's legacy and others.
Continuing to improve and extend the community programs (and their data feeding back into the research repository to continue helping move the body of knowledge along).
Reducing our participation in "fandom" events. Focusing more of our energy back on our roots with the professional and community partnerships and conferences that are the most effective at furthering our Mission and Vision goals.
Our volunteers span 6 continents! (Anyone in Antarctica want to join?)
We continue to grow as our amazing volunteer staff come from diverse locations, age, culture, education, demographics, disciplines, backgrounds, neuro-variety, abilities, and more!
Our amazing growth did have some consequence.
Primarily making the core volunteer staff exhausted (we have a lot of game masters and researchers, but very few administrative staff).
Our program supplies underwent exceptional wear and tear from so many programs per week (on peak weeks between 10-20 per week!), including damaged and used up equipment (drum heads broken, studio equipment damaged, gaming materials missing components, etc.)
Our broadcast quality getting worse and worse (going from 1-2 streams per week to 10-20 per week).
Due to administrative load on Hawke, the research department (our primary purpose) slowed down considerably as the community programs took up most of the time.
In late January, due to technical and training issues, we temporarily suspended broadcasting our training and other programs live. We are still recording the sessions, but the computer hardware we had couldn't handle the dual load of recording and broadcasting. Also we have so many new staff members that didn't get the training a few years ago on how to use the studio lighting, sound, and other equipment, which was leading to damaged and unusable equipment.
In February we received a new, much beefier computer to use for our studio broadcasts.
Less Focus on "Fandom" and More on Professional and Community Programs
Surprisingly we have found that the fandom programs gladly consume all of our volunteer hours and other resources, but they do not really "give back" to the community helping to further our goals: improving the quality of life for those who need it most. While there is very remarkable excitement, with many offers made by the event staff or participants leading up to and during the events, there is very little follow through from them after the events are over. Most of these fandom events have been a net loss of time and resources, rather than gain.
The fandom programs tend to burn out volunteers, do not increase public awareness of our core goals, and consume far more of our donation budget.
Meanwhile, our professional and community programs are much better at saying thank you, providing direct help with our efforts to improve the quality of life for those in our programs. These professional and community organizations provide far more support, say thank you, help spread the word about our efforts, recruit volunteers, often joining as partners or volunteers themselves, etc. Most of these programs with schools, libraries, professional associations like ATRA and others, universities, and community centers, usually end up a net gain from the expenditure of volunteer hours and other resources.
The community and professional programs tend to invigorate our volunteers, grow our resources, increase public awareness, and increase our donation budget.
All-in-all, things are going wonderfully well. We are grateful for all the long-term and brand-new volunteers that bring their excitement in providing support to RPG Research with their time and energy helping improving lives around the world. And to our generous donors.
We look forward to raising the funds necessary to move into a larger facility that will help serve even more of the community and grow our museum and research programs exponentially.
2021 and 2022 look like they are going to be fantastic years thanks to all of you!
Thank you all so very much for making this all possible!