Market Research for Social Ventures

The value of market research and customer engagement is well understood in the private sector; the most successful companies in the world are market-driven organizations that monitor their environment, adapt to changes and seek out opportunities to advance their impact. Investments in market intelligence and understanding the perspectives of customers and prospects are simply that – investments that contribute to their return to shareholders.

Renee Kaplan

CEO, The Philanthropy Workshop

Former EVP, Casey Family Programs

At Casey, I worked with Mark and George on a number of stakeholder research projects involving strategic planning, program improvement, and marketing/branding strategy. Their unique value was drawing out our stakeholders' perceptions and insights - which they did extremely well. Their work went beyond traditional research methodology, and was agile and practical for the business problems we were trying to solve. In the process, we also received positive marks from our stakeholders about their experience.

I highly recommend their services.

“But social ventures are different.”

Defn.: 'social ventures' are funders and nonprofit providers
who work in partnership to create positive, sustainable social
or environmental change.

Well, yes, social ventures are different. Of course they are! Benefits accrue to their particular ‘customers’ and to society in general, not to shareholders. The private sector has a common frame of reference of profitability while social ventures often grapple with less tangible benefits; their goals and values may be unique, not well understood, or even provocative to some segments of society.

But those differences are not reasons to sidestep market- and ‘customer’ research. In fact, the ecosystem of social ventures is arguably more complex and opaque than that of the private sector; understanding the array of beneficiaries and other stakeholders surrounding a particular goal, organization or initiative is a key factor in the success – the ROI, if you will – of a social venture.

The parallels between social ventures and private sector organizations extend to another critical area: competition. While this term may seem out of place in a discussion about mission-driven organizations, the reality is that social ventures operate in highly competitive environments. With over 80,000 grant-making foundations and 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the US alone, it is vital that an organization be able to clearly and effectively differentiate itself from other organizations competing for a finite pool of mindshare and resources. This is why many organizations conduct periodic audits of their brands, reputation and communications.

Key Benefits

  • Gain deep insights into stakeholder perceptions of your mission, values and programmatic offerings

  • Make better, more informed decisions
    that increase your ability to engage and influence stakeholders and improve programmatic offerings

  • Create goodwill and increased stakeholder engagement by involving them in a collaborative, inclusive process

  • Build stronger brand identity and enhance your organization's reputation

© 2019 by CAVU Research LLC