It’s knowing that your door is always open and your furniture is gone, as George Carlin rendered the John Hartford song.
In the nonprofit sector, it’s knowing what you’re doing and where you’re going that makes a big difference, knowing what doors are open and where they should be closed and locked.
Research can be extremely useful for fundraising, but many organizations view it as a time-wasting, money-wasting exercise.
During the 2014 International Fundraising Congress (IFC), Rosemary Oliver of Amnesty International said that research can sharpen strategy, and she offered insights into how that can happen. Good research:
- Helps an organization communicate more effectively with the donors it has.
- Helps communicate with others like them, to recruit new donors.
- Helps the organization work with different segments more effectively.
- Helps build donor loyalty.
- Helps raise more money.
- Will help the program part of the organization communicate more effectively too.
- Can help develop new strategies for volunteers and activists.
- Should help the organization overall.
- Helps in the tracking and monitoring of things over time.
- Can help with market research:
- If the organization has the budget, do an external survey at the same time.
- Compare support for different areas of work.
- Get tips for messaging.
- Help in seeing donors as a subset of a larger world.