Research in times of COVID                                      

As Research Manager at THINK Intelligence, THINK’s global research unit, I have been lucky enough to talk to new and existing clients about how they are coping with the COVID-19 crisis within their organizations. Though there are obviously lots of difficult decisions being made during these uncertain times, plenty of charities are using this time as an opportunity to plan for a post-COVID future. Research is playing a large part in this planning process as organizations lay the groundwork for adapting their activities for what lies ahead.

A couple of research trends we are seeing right now are a focus on fundraising strategic reviews, prospect identification and stewardship. As the face of fundraising will undoubtedly – and possibly irrevocably – change by the end of 2020, some charities are reviewing their overall fundraising strategies or looking at individual income streams. By gathering benchmarking data and comparator/competitor information, these charities are better placed to make well-informed decisions about short and medium-term changes to their fundraising strategies.

Equally many charities are focused on prospect research right now. A number of nonprofits predict that some of their usually robust income streams may struggle, and they have been proactive in identifying individuals and organizations who can be approached for the bigger asks – either now, or when we move into a new normal. This will allow these forward-thinking organizations to future-proof their income, as other areas of fundraising experience the aftermath of the COVID-19 shock.

Finally, we continue to see a recognition of the importance of donor stewardship, with THINK’s mystery supporter program, the Stewardship Tracker, continuing to provide value to its members. In the coming months the charities on the Tracker will be mystery-shopped across a series of activities, and assessed as to how well their donor communications to emergency appeal respondents landed, as well as seeing how ‘business as usual’ donations fared during this period. This insight will no doubt lead to refinements to supporter journeys in the future, and help with the recruitment and retention of supporters.

So the THINK Intelligence team is keeping busy, feeling lucky and providing relevant insights to clients which will help many make the transition to the other side of this crisis smoother and more fruitful. If you think we might be able to help your organization, please do reach out.

Arani MyIvaganam is Research Manager at THINK Consulting Solutions.
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