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How charities can use data in their campaigns

Data from our research is used by charities in many different ways, with some adopting it as a core element in their campaigns.

Data from our research is used by charities in many different ways, with some adopting it as a core element in their campaigns. Skilfully incorporated into your campaign, relevant research facts can really make your message stand out, adding thousands of voices to support your own, but how can charities best go about this? This blog outlines four tips for adding research to support your campaign.

  1. Know what data your audience wants

Whether this is as broad as the general public or as specialist as the equestrian press (as was the case with a project we ran with Brooke last year); know who you’re trying to engage. Both our own and academic research shows that politicians love data and snappy statistics.

If your campaign provides a great stat for a backbencher to throw into the debate it gives them the confidence to take up your aims and ideas, especially if they can promote it as the view of the people.

This approach was taken by Greenpeace, who used statistics such as “people across the UK believe car companies and central government are responsible for dealing with the air pollution caused by diesel cars (75% and 54% [respectively])”. An MP from our recent Charity Parliamentary Monitor (CPM) research, when asked what makes charity campaigning effective, said: “Clear, concise briefing material with useful statistics.”

Add the data into your press release to spread your campaigns beyond your own advertising. As seen in our own research with journalists, the Journalists Attitudes and Awareness Monitor (JAAM), there are comments such as “The media will always be interested in startling stats - a rise in figures or a serious drop in figures.”

Journalists are always looking for a story, or a shocking fact (that doesn’t have to be negative!) and providing them with this data can be a good lead for a high performing press release.

  1. Choose the voice of the data

Think about whose voice is the most important for your audience to hear. If you are campaigning for a change of healthcare policy then the voices of healthcare professionals could earn the most traction.

In the run-up to the London Mayoral campaign, Greenpeace wanted to find out what Londoner’s thought about air pollution. We polled Londoners to find out what they thought. This allowed both the voice of Greenpeace, backed by the general public, to speak into the political sphere and encourage the up taking of their policy campaign.

  1. Don’t assume you already know what the data will reveal before you start

Whilst it’s good to have an idea of what you want to find out, trying to load the questions to get the answers you want will derail the research and in turn affect the quality of the data. Similarly, coming to the research process with expectations of what you will find and the exact data you will get could lead to disappointment.

Being open to the research and results will leave you open to interesting findings, but will also stop the risk of the data you find not matching your pre-composed marketing plans. By weaving multiple facts together, a campaign can run along a story formed by the real results, rather than a forced story that fits within an existing expectation.

  1. Design an engaging survey to get the data you need

Asking well-constructed questions will provide the clearest and most definitive statistics to use in your campaigns. An engaging survey will not only ensure important audiences remain warm to you but will also reduce the dropout rate from the survey itself. We’ve been using gamification (a fancy way of saying, designing surveys more like games with features that keep people interested) in a lot of our projects recently, including an interactive quiz for the research that fed into the recent Brooke Every Horse Remembered campaign.

Finally, always make sure that all options are covered in the questions, and that if not, there is an ‘other’ box – you might be surprised what you learn about the questionnaire audience!

Debbie Hazelton


If you are interested in doing research for an upcoming campaign, or any other research, please contact the Claire at projects@nfpsynergy.net


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