How Can Charities Use Insight To Set Themselves Apart From The Rest?



Charities have a big task to fulfil.  They touch many people’s lives in different ways.  A charity’s main aim is to raise money and awareness for their cause to help benefit the beneficiaries’ lives in some way.  But compared to commercial businesses, charities also need to satisfy the requirements of many more groups of stakeholders.

Not only are charities competing with other charities, but in many cases they are also competing with the wider commercial world.  A charity needs to run not-for-profit, but also needs to run like a commercial brand with a strategic, competitive approach to fulfil their objectives and compete with other charities, retailers, work/social activities, websites, financial commitments…the list goes on!



Some critics say that charities shouldn’t pay for primary research as it could be seen as wasting the charities’ valuable funds, which should be going to better causes. However, a charity needs to use insight to better understand their touch points and how they can improve the charity’s ‘brand’ to perform better in the competitive arenaThe right research can be a great return on investment and enable a charity to set themselves apart from the rest.  As with all research, it needs to be cost effective, efficient and clever to ensure the insights are used to their maximum benefit and it is money well spent.



Understanding who the charity’s key groups are and what their desires and motivations to be involved with the charity are, will help target a charity’s campaign.  Also, a charity needs to know if what they are doing is appealing and encouraging loyalty and new/repeat interactions and the reasons for this.

There are many different research strategies available, depending on the charity’s objectives and budget.  For example, questions on a well-structured omnibus study or a syndicated study are good ways to keep research costs down.  If the charity has a retail arm, store exit interviews provide valuable answers about a charity’s donors, customers, staff and volunteers which can drive improvements to the retail experience.  A strong qualitative and neuroscience study can reveal how participants genuinely feel about your charity, which can show you how to truly connect emotionally with supporters.  Here are a few research areas a charity should be exploring (through careful selection):

When a charity is looking to work with a good research partner, they should be looking for a flexible team that understands the charity’s objectives and can provide clear direction via cost effective, clever approaches without compromising on quality.  Some charities will prefer to interpret the data themselves however the majority use a research supplier that will work in close partnership and provide strategic recommendations to create change within the organisation.

Charities owe it to their key stakeholders to know more about their charity’s interactions and how they influence others to gain a competitive edge.  An investment in clever insight will provide great return on investment for your cause.  Marketing Sciences Unlimited have worked closely with a number of charities over the years to help improve the lives of many. See an example of our work with Barnardo’s where we provided insight to understand the motivations and behaviours of their customers and donors.

Justine is an Associate Director within the Retail Team at Marketing Sciences Unlimited.

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Justine Boston
01962 842211
Article date - 04/04/2017
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