Can’t Afford Market Research? Take a Fundraiser to Lunch

Listen to any public radio fundraiser and you’re going to hear a steady drumbeat of law firm business partner names. Listen to their news programs, and you’ll frequently hear plugs for law firm underwriters. My local NPR station, KUT, currently lists 60 legal services firms in it online business supporter directory, and eight firms as corporate underwriters.

Let’s be clear. It’s not the good-natured on-air wheedling and cajoling that got these firms to pony up — it’s the result of a sophisticated development organization (nonprofit-speak for marketing) that works year-round to identify prospects, solicit introductions and cultivate relationships. Sound familiar? It’s just like law firm marketing.

So if you are active in a nonprofit organization — particularly a large one — it’s worthwhile to see whether/how much the development director is willing to share with you on the art and science of targeting and segmentation for local businesses.

Companies that help nonprofits with their fundraising and marketing can be great free resources, too.

Convio is a software as a service (SaaS) company focused on online marketing and fundraising for nonprofits. Check out their Nonprofit Sector Research library. Their just-published 2010 online nonprofit benchmark study is a trove of information on e-campaign results and trends. Also worth perusal for useful nuggets is their 2008 study “The Wired Wealthy: Using the Internet to Connect with Your Middle and Major Donors.” Given the rapid growth in social networking adoption and social media usage rates over the past two years, the data is probably out of date, but it still has some interesting insights that could inform your strategic planning.

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