Qualitative Research for Non-Profits – Dos and Don’ts


We were honoured recently to be invited by (The Esomar Foundation) to be part of a series of webinars focussing on how qualitative research can support and inform non-profit organisations’ aims and objectives, helping understand and address different types of donors.

Sven Arn, Managing Director and Partner at H/T/P, talked about how qual research approaches developed from commercial research can be used for non-profit challenges, what differences there are and how to address them, suggesting practical tips.

To summarise briefly:

Many techniques and methods used in commercial research can be re-applied successfully and efficiently for non-profit needs:

  • Traditional methods such as focus groups can be a quick and easy way to gauge an audience’s reactions to ideas.
  • Newer, more collaborative methods such as co-creation sessions or online insight communities (Online Insight Communities) are also useful in engaging different types of audiences, both internal stakeholders and potential donors.

However, research for non-profits often presents a different set of challenges. For example: from the donor perspective, the concern that money is being spent on non-essentials rather than going to the projects and people that need it.

You can read a fuller report on the webinar here: Esomar Foundation: Making a Difference

One central take-out from H/T/P’s work was the need for non-profit organizations to be able to communicate both emotionally and fast:

“One thing we have learnt in translating marketing principles to the non-profit world is that these organisations need to engage fast and emotionally. The decision to support an organisation does not usually come from carefully considered reflection but is made relatively spontaneously.”

If you’d like to learn more, please get in touch: either here or with Sven directly.

We’d love to hear from you!

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