Telling Your Story

Tracking your community’s output is a wonderful way to motivate the team and communicate to community stakeholders the impact your organization is having.

The Power of Documentation

For the first 22 weeks of its existence, OSMS ran “weekly counts” in the Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies Facebook Group. These posts were only live for 24 hours and they encouraged both individuals and groups to post pictures and quantities of what they had produced that week. You can see the results from each week broken down in the OSMS Global Dashboards.

OSMS, along with Nation of Makers, is currently conducting a Community Impact Survey to show the impact local makers and manufacturers have had on the PPE and medical supplies shortages around the world. We are tracking production data, policy influencers, distribution networks, and new relationships formed during the COVID-19 crisis. If you made any PPE or medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, we would appreciate you taking 10 minutes of your time to fill out the survey and share your experience with us! A report based on the findings of the survey will be released in early 2021.

Tracking Your Data

Tracking your data is crucial to your local response effort. Not only will you be able to know what your production schedule looks like should an emergency arise in your community, but tracking your production will also tell your community and stakeholders what you’ve produced and can even be used to help with your funding down the line. The most important pieces to consider in tracking your data is that you:

  • Find the most convenient way for people to report numbers to you – via form, via messenger, via WhatsApp etc. – and keeping this way of reporting consistent.
  • To establish a reporting rhythm, usually every week or every 10 days, and enforcing this rhythm, as well as hold people accountable to the reporting rhythm.
  • Record Name, location, type of equipment made, quantity made, and date of production.
  • It’s important you record time and place of creation, as it serves as a canary in the coal mine – an early warning system to see trends.

Publishing Your Findings

There are many ways to report your data once you have collected it. Below are some of the more popular ways of reporting what you and your organization have accomplished. We recommend utilizing multiple formats, so you can tailor your reporting appropriately to different stakeholders (your community, current funders, potential donors, clients, local media, policymakers, etc.)

Written Reports

A long form written report, sometimes called a white paper, is an in depth analysis of a subject. They can be self published or picked up and published by an accredited organization.

This case study about Open Works Baltimore’s emergency response to the pandemic is an in-depth look at how a makerspace responded to the medical supply chain breakdown. The report asks and covers:

  • What is the role of trust in organizing a response to the inability to meet critical product demand during a healthcare crisis? 
  • How are Lean Manufacturing principles applied in a makerspace in response to a critical product shortage during a healthcare crisis? 
  • What practices lead to greater supply chain agility during a healthcare crisis? 
  • What crisis response practices facilitate makerspace integration with the existing and emerging manufacturing sector?

The OSMS British Columbia Chapter’s white paper demonstrates how essential shaping the COVID-19 curve is. The team developed mathematical models from World Health Organization (WHO) data on the number of reported daily confirmed cases of COVID-19, and analyzed how effective and efficient an individual country’s response was to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. To offer feedback or to contact OSMS-BC, reach out to Yajur Sondhi.

Data Visualizations

Graphical representation of data is almost irresistible! Google sheets and Excel have built-in, easy ways to turn tables into charts; connecting to Google Data Studio can do even more, including the generation of interactive dashboards. Check out OSMS’s Impact Data page for ideas.

Websites, Slide Decks and Video

If you have the resources, translating your story assets to other mediums expands your reach to other audiences.

  • Slide decks can not only be presented, but they can be shared via email as PDFs. They are usually more visual than a written repot, and require you to get clear on the top points of your story, all of which can be helpful to audiences. Google Slides, Keynote, and PowerPoint are the most common tools to create presentations.
  • Your website is key to reaching the general public, and also for leaving a lasting imprint or summary of your work and story. If not on your home page, make sure your “impact data” is available in top-level navigation.
  • Video makes the whole thing real. Combining clips of people in action making and delivering products with data and text overlays is a fantastic method of sharing results.

Public Relations: Getting Media to Tell Your Story

Getting coverage for your work from organizations with larger audiences than yours is a great place to put energy. First, YOU don’t have to spend the time writing or making video — let the professional do it! But also these “channels” can likely reach far more people than your group can.

Reaching out to media is something like cold-calling for sales. You need to research reporters that are interested in stories like yours, find their contact information (look for email addresses but also Twitter or other social feeds), and articulate a clear and compelling “pitch”. This website has a good, short breakdown of how to pitch stories to reporters.

Here are some examples of exciting local coverage for Local Response Groups around the world:

  • The Central Florida OSMS team got this great local news coverage that helped fund and amplify their cause.
  • Fuse33 makerspace in Calgary, Canada was featured in this video produced by the City of Calgary’s Economic Development Department.
  • The Guardian UK ran a story on a PPE production line at Harrogate grammar school.
  • The Chicago Tribune featured a long-lasting mask making effort out of a public library.
  • Multiple Local Response groups in Colorado, USA were covered in this Colorado Sun article.



Funding & Sustainability

Business models to sustain emergency response

Further Resources

Links to citations, inspiration, and tools.