Nonprofit Fundraising Study— An Examination of the Understanding and Use of Scientific Research Methods in Fundraising Campaigns

In 2014, the Science of Philanthropy Initiative (SPI) partnered with the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) with the goal of trying to better understand how to make scientific research findings more useful to nonprofits and others involved in fundraising. A new section was added to the NRC’s Mid-Year Nonprofit Fundraising Study to examine how nonprofits are using scientific research in their organizations. The semi-annual survey included questions that were designed to ascertain organizations’ understanding of the scientific method and their ability to evaluate the scientific rigor of studies. Additionally the questions enable us to look at the extent to which organizations are incorporating such studies into their fundraising strategies. Finally we are able to show how many nonprofits are formally testing their fundraising methods to see which approaches work best. Survey invitations were sent out July and August 2014 through several distinct groups: prior NRC survey participants, members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, more than 4,800 organizations on the mailing list of Campbell Rinker, and members of the SPI mailing list. Additionally, the Chronicle of Philanthropy generously sent out invitations to members of its mailing list. In total, there were 1,180 survey respondents from nonprofits throughout the United States and Canada.

Download the full report here.