Last month’s extremely practical post from Nicholas Buccheri, Eight shortcuts to market research for nonprofits, really highlighted the importance of market research and the many, simple and affordable forms it can take. So let’s dig a little deeper into a conversation about practical market research options at this month’s #NPMC chat for nonprofit marketers and communicators.

In his post, Nick pointed out that market research is about gathering intelligence in order to make informed decisions – and that it doesn’t need to mean a big budget or the hiring of a market research firm. In thinking about and researching this topic further, I found a number of others who have shared some very practical tips on market research-made-accessible for nonprofits:

When it comes down to it, market research for nonprofits is about gathering the information you need to make informed decisions in all areas of the organization. For nonprofit marketers and communicators, it’s about accessing insights that help keep marcom plans and activities on the right track. Otherwise, you’re proceeding based on assumptions and opinions about what will work and what needs to be done.

What can market research really look like within your budget and available time?

To recap just a few of the ideas and examples from Nick’s post and the posts listed above, market research can take the form of:

  • Reader surveys
  • Program evaluations
  • One-on-one interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Website, email and social media analytics
  • Review of market research and surveys conducted by others
  • Online surveys and polls
  • A good old SWOT analysis
  • and more…make sure to check out the ideas shared by the authors above!

Choose the method based on what you need to know

What do you need to discover? What insights, evidence and nuances will help you make smart marcom decisions? Some examples:

  • How your organization is perceived?
  • Audience demographics, preferences and pain points
  • The effectiveness of your marketing communications
  • Current trends

Working within your time and resources will mean prioritizing: what data is most important to collect? How much information will be useful and manageable?

Let’s talk about nonprofit market research during February’s #NPMC chat

What questions do you have about a realistic approach to market research at your nonprofit and what it can make possible? What information will help you to build stronger marcom activities and enhance your value within your organization? Please join the conversation to share your questions and ideas on Thursday, February 26 at 1:00 p.m. ET. Follow the #NPMC hashtag on Twitter.

Thank you to RoiAnn Phillips, Kelly Rembold and Heather Cosentino for your questions which are helping to shape this discussion!

Marlene Oliveira

Marlene Oliveira

Communications advisor and copywriter at moflow
Marlene Oliveira is communications consultant and copywriter at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog. Having worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999, Marlene specializes in working with capacity building and grant-making organizations, advising on communications strategy, and writing stories and other content.
Marlene Oliveira
Marlene Oliveira