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The Power of Research: Making a Strong Case for Your Nonprofit

In school, the power of research for a paper was pretty obvious — the better it was, the higher the grade. With truthful, well-rounded research, what we wrote was richer with objectivity and authoritative information.

Our conclusions held water—in short, we made a strong case for our perspective. Research ensured our view was based on facts rather than on some assumed reasoning.

Of course, we all make assumptions from time to time, stating our positions like they were absolute.

For instance, I always say that Aleve is much better for a backache than Motrin.

But that doesn’t make it so. It’s purely subjective based on my past experience. So it’s only an opinion dressed up as a fact.

I can be forgiven for that, though, because it’s pretty obvious I’m stating a personal preference based on absolutely no research.

Plus, people don’t rely on me for pain-relieving advice!

On the other hand, people rely on nonprofits for information regarding their mission and how well they’re performing.

That means organizations should have accurate statistics to inform people about their cause, their clients, and their overall impact.

That includes employing research to ensure programs and services are the right ones and on track for success.

Feedback, surveys, client interviews, public data, and the like can yield invaluable information.

If you’ve done the research and messaged it truthfully, you’ll help ensure your nonprofit is trusted and well-regarded. It follows that you’ll likely be rewarded with donations, volunteers, and community support.

However, if research is scant or messaged improperly, you run the risk of people questioning your information. Such skepticism can hurt a nonprofit’s standing.

For example, I recently saw a PSA showing a reenactment of a child being kidnapped by a stranger in front of her mother, with the message that 2,000 children go missing every day.

I thought, “Wow! 2,000 children are abducted every day?”

So I did a bit of research on the subject and come to find out that stranger abductions are actually the rarest reason that children go missing.

Moreover, a number of missing children cases are resolved within hours. Other cases include runaways and noncustodial parent abductions.

Certainly, any reason a child goes missing is cause for concern.

Nonetheless, I feel the way the problem was presented was misleading, prompting me to believe that stranger abductions were a lot more prominent than research supports.

As an example of for-profit skewed research, Colgate’s 2007 United Kingdom advertising stated, “More than 80 percent of dentists recommend Colgate.”

The assumption, of course, is that they exclusively recommended Colgate, while the remaining 20 percent of dentists chose otherwise.

However, it came out that the survey allowed the dentists to select multiple brands. And while 80 percent indeed chose Colgate, almost as many also recommended a competitor.

Not surprisingly, Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority shut down the campaign.

Make sure your organization uses research to paint an honest assessment for your audience. Integrity is key when it comes to getting and keeping supporters.

Research can help determine how best to reach donors and other stakeholders.

In our quest to get nonprofits fully funded, we leverage people, process, and technology to get the biggest bang for the buck.

We include four-day sprints and segmented audiences and personalized messaging to reach potential and current donors in the most effective ways.

And it all starts with best practices based not just on our experience but on current research.

For example, we’ve developed a set of free, live webinars to disseminate information of various reports we’ve researched and authored:


Donor Cultivation and Stewardship  –  We subscribed to the email newsletters of hundreds of nonprofits to evaluate their interaction with us as a potential donor.

We then created the “2022 Donor Lifecycle Report” using our findings, such as (a) which category of email leads to raising the most money, (b) the most effective mix of emails for retaining donors, and (c) whether donors respond to designed emails, plain text, or both.



Email Engagement  – Using information from the same nonprofits noted above, we gauged their follow-up communications in the crucial November-December fundraising sprint.

Our “2022 Email Impact Guide” laid out the findings, including (a) the most effective email signup form, (b) the best email mix for the year-end ask, and (c) nonprofit email mistakes.

We also included some real eye openers, like how many nonprofits offered NO email subscription form on their website, even though email typically accounts for at least 15 percent of online revenue.

illustration-webDonation Page Assessment Report  – Since a startling 83% of donation page visitors leave without ever making a gift, nonprofits should take every opportunity to simplify the process. 

So we analyzed the donation pages of 152 nonprofits, looking at such factors as number of clicks required, nonessential information, distractions, mandatory fields, homepage presence, and so on.

In so doing, we gleaned a number of insights as to whether a donation page is likely to convert a casual looker into an active donor. 

By passing this power of research into our clients’ hands, we can help them optimize donor communications and, ultimately, their fundraising success.

That’s worth a solid “A” in anyone’s book!

Interested in learning more? Book a complimentary Scale Session to identify steps your nonprofit can take to double its revenue.