Market research is rarely a priority for nonprofits. And it’s no wonder! With just 8 staff members and under $500,000 in annual spending, the average nonprofit has limited available resources. Many charitable organizations also think that research spending takes away from valuable funds that could go directly towards the cause, such as for programming, advocacy, fundraising, or volunteer recruitment.
The irony, however, is that market research is not necessarily resource intensive. In fact, market research can even save you money in the long run by avoiding mistakes in planning and carrying out initiatives. That’s right – sometimes you need to spend money to save money!
Additionally, market research will only help advance your cause. It can reveal how to engage and communicate with existing donors/volunteers to boost their giving. It can help identify and attract new supporters. It can uncover how your nonprofit “stacks up against competitors…in the minds of your audience." Moreover, it can expose organizational inefficiencies so you can maximize resources and impact. In these (and other) ways, market research can make all your goals more attainable, “paying dividends for years to come."
To yield the most from market research, nonprofits should collect at least three types of information. The first, and most basic, is demographic data on donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries. This includes age, gender, race, location, education, income, family status, political affiliation, and any characteristic that allows for targeting/segmentation. The second type could be called traditional market research findings. Such information can range from donor attitudes and behavior to beneficiary needs and satisfaction levels (check out some of our Donor Mindset Studies for some inspiration). Finally, the third type of information is competitive intelligence. This captures how similar charities are faring (in terms of their work, effectiveness, messaging etc.) and may provide some lessons learned and insights moving forward.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of tools for gathering the above data. Depending on exact needs and budget, nonprofits can use quantitative and qualitative online surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews, re-contact studies, online communities, and/or bulletin boards—to name a few.
Opinions4Good (Op4G) offers many of these options. But that’s not our only strength! We also have 10+ years of experience working with different nonprofit organizations across the United States. We are currently partnered with 300+ nonprofits, raising over $480,000 in donations to date through our nonprofit partnership funding model.
So if your nonprofit wisely decides to undertake market research, we encourage you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a choice you can feel “good” about!