Research & Analytics

Is your fundraising approach rooted in data and analytics? It should be.

The Importance of Research

Research and collaboration are essential to improve the understanding and practice of philanthropy. At Summit Marketing, we are continually testing and learning to ensure we create programs and services that provide the best return on net investment to our clients. To that end, we are delighted to promote the Lilly School of Philanthropy at IUPUI.

The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is the world’s first school dedicated solely to the study and teaching of philanthropy. The school plays a leading role in moving philanthropy forward across the country and around the world.

The IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy faculty and staff train and empower students and practitioners to innovate and lead—and to create positive and lasting change in the world. 

They identify emerging trends, challenge conventional wisdom, and provide valuable insights into philanthropy with their cutting-edge research. Their in-house research staff and peer-reviewed faculty studies increase understanding of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.

Pictured: Ron Busroe (Senior Strategy Advisor, Summit Marketing) and Una Osili, Ph.D. (Dean’s Fellow, Mays Institute on Diverse Philanthropy, Professor of Economics, Associate Dean for Research and International Programs)

Research Drives the Message

To ensure we are mailing only our most successful appeals, we periodically test our control packages against a new design to ensure we are not leaving any donations on the table. Our main objective with testing is to increase the response rate. 

We developed a test package featuring an urgent response timeframe and a free gift offer on the outer envelope. Package design and messaging were the test variable, while our proprietary recency, frequency, monetary value (RFM) strategy and ask strings strategy were consistent between both packages.

After two years of testing, the Urgent Pantry test package replaced the 20+-year-old Pantry Gram control package. See the results here: Annual Direct Mail Testing: Pantry Appeal

We continue to use research and analysis to develop new packages and testing strategies. Data and donor insights drive our creative process and generate results.

Using Research to Challenge Assumptions

The U.S. Army needed help communicating how diversity among their ranks makes for a stronger Army, ready to fight and win the battles of the 21st century. Our unique precognitive research revealed subconscious thoughts and closely-held attitudes on the topic of diversity. Ultimately, our findings concluded that we needed to challenge the assumptions of Soldiers and civilians.

We crafted powerful messaging to establish the need to see beyond the surface of individuals and realize that true strengths aren’t always apparent. “Strength in Diversity” stories were created and told across multiple channels, including command kits, poster series, banner stands, banners, an introductory video, brochures, a Diversity website and more.

Millions of enlisted personnel received the “Strength in Diversity” message. Check out the full case study here: U.S. Army: Marketing to Affect Cultural Change

Want to learn more?

Summit Marketing utilizes and promotes IUPUI research to focus on increasing knowledge about what’s happening in the nonprofit sector and how to translate research into actionable solutions to improve volunteerism, fundraising, nonprofit organization management, and other aspects of philanthropic activity.

Take a closer look at some of the research we are utilizing:

Giving USA is the longest-running, most comprehensive analysis of the sources and uses of U.S. charitable giving. This periodical rigorously estimates donations by individuals, corporations, foundations, and bequests to 1.1 million charities and 220,000 U.S. religious organizations.

The Philanthropy Outlook 2019 & 2020 projects giving by individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations will grow, and offers potential scenarios, factors to watch.

Changes to the Giving Landscape analyzes effects of the 2008 Great Recession on charitable giving across various donor demographic groups and examines differences pre- and post-recession. The study looks at the share of households who gave, the amounts donor households gave, and the percent of income households gave before and after the Great Recession. The report offers key insights for nonprofits and donors as they face new and evolving factors affecting the philanthropic sector in the United States.

#GivingTuesday is a global movement that engages individuals, businesses, communities, and nonprofits to celebrate and encourage giving. Launched in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation with additional partners, #GivingTuesday annually promotes giving back at the beginning of the holiday season on the first Tuesday following Thanksgiving.

A Giving USA Spotlight entitled #GivingTuesday: A Planned Day of Spontaneous Giving provides initial findings about #GivingTuesday using data provided by Network for Good, an online fundraising platform. In addition, this Spotlight provides an overview of #GivingTuesday, including its history and context in the growing world of social media and online giving. The Spotlight is useful for nonprofit practitioners to gain better insight into #GivingTuesday, including its impact on giving behavior.

Donor-advised funds are frequently identified as one of the fastest-growing vehicles for charitable giving, but the question of where those donor-advised fund grant dollars go has remained largely unanswered until now.

Additional Articles