The implementation of market research (identification of a specific market and measurement of its size and other characteristics) as part of program design activities by non-profits is a practice that cannot be ignored. Hitherto, market research was viewed as a practice best suited for corporations and industries. Yet, non-profits stand to gain immensely from the incorporation of market research in their program design practices.
For non-profits that cite limited funding and time as the main reasons why they can't afford to conduct market research, it should be noted that refraining from conducting market research is actually costly in the long term. Benefits of market research to non-profits include;
1. Time Saver:
Let's observe the following scenario. A non-profit may decide to offer shelter services for victims of domestic violence within its' community. After approval from the board, the non-profit may decide to design a program aimed at providing shelter services. How will the non-profit move from acting based on an assumption to acting based on facts? What if there is another non-profit carrying out the same service ? Without market research, the leadership of the non-profit will not have a sufficient response to this question. In the event that another non-profit is already offering that service in the community, a likely outcome could be that the program would not be successful. Therefore, the time and funds expended on the program would have been for naught. Had market research been conducted from the onset, this outcome would have been avoided.
2. Competitive Advantage:
In an ideal world, competition would be non-existent. Yet, the world we live in is highly competitive. For non-profits to excel, it is essential that they figure out their value and competitive edge. This can be gleaned through market research. Once a non-profit carries out market research, it will be armed with insight on how it's competitors are carrying out their programs. Along with this insight comes the opportunity to figure out how to carry out similar services effectively and efficiently. This knowledge will inevitably result in a non-profit attaining its competitive advantage!
3. Sustainable Programs:
Conducting market research is a key step in the design of sustainable programs. For example, by carrying out market research, the leadership of a non-profit will acquire information on where a need is greatest and the beneficiaries that stand to gain most from a proposed service. On the flip side, areas requiring minimum service from the non-profit will be brought to light. Therefore, the design of a program taking into account information gained from market research is highly likely to be sustainable.
Through market research, a non-profit can gain important information on the services being provided by other non-profits within its' community. Accordingly, it will be in a better position to team up or collaborate with the right non-profit when it comes to providing services that require such partnerships. Also, a non-profits ability to form the right partnership(s) when seeking funds can increase its' fundraising potential.
Small non-profits can take advantage of affordable market research that are easily accessible. Some of the affordable options for conducting market research can be readily obtained from sources such as local libraries and local colleges. Non-profits ought to integrate market research in their program design efforts as they will reap benefits such as saving time, gaining a competitive advantage, designing sustainable programs and establishing partnerships.
1. Strategic Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations, Alan R. Andreasen, Phillip Kotler, 2008, Seventh International Edition, Pearson Prentice Hall.
2.Market Research. Retrieved June 23, 2017