Invitation to join Donor Research project

What is in it for your donors to donate to you? Not the official reason that they state. But the secret reasons why. If you knew the messages that work, you can attract more new donors, just like your existing donors.

We are seeking charities that have a large and engaged donor base and are willing to ask their donors to answer specific questions about the way they donate. There is minimal time commitment for staff and participation is free.

Typical questions that you will ask your donors:

You will ask your donors to complete 2 exercises. One will be a story exercise on their experience donating to you; the second will be a picture/collage exercise. Both will be analyzed for unconscious motivations, feelings, desires, fears and hopes.

How this research fits with other donor research:

This research will identify the unstated reasons to donate. It is hard for donors to state why they donate (because they don’t know or they are too embarrassed to say an illogical reason). Instead, this research asks “how” donors donate and the Research Analyst will infer “why”.  Here is a self-guided PowerPoint presentation that explains the details of the study. It was written for the marketing/research staff of charities that might want to join us. WhyDoDonorsDonate

Segmentation research (personal ties, faith, see the difference, re-payer) differentiates donors by their stated reasons; segmentation research is brought alive by writing “personas”.

General research on what donors want to hear (what donation used for, amount of good, efficiency) helps “close the sale” by comparing one charity with another charity.

How charities will be selected:

  • large enough donor base to produce 50 usable donor submissions
  • charity’s plan for obtaining the donor submissions (ie what ongoing activities will piggyback this research, such as focus group, email surveys, at an event)
  • one charity for each cause
  • the charity is representative of a typical charity within the cause

What is the process:

  1. Charity sends 2 exercises to donor base.
  2. Charity sends 50 donor submissions to Research Analyst who looks for patterns.
  3. Charity removes proprietary findings and releases general findings to MAS
  4. MAS publishes into public domain (all participants get equal profile)
  5. Determine viability of repeating with charity in another cause.


– clearer messages from all charities will encourage more donors to donate more

Costs $0:

– Research Analyst donates her time

– MAS Consulting is a pro bono service

– data collection is piggybacked onto existing activities

About MAS Consulting

MAS is a pro bono consulting service, operating in Toronto since 1993. Completing 200+ projects per year, we help small and midsize non profits in governance, strategy, HR, marketing, fundraising and facilitation. As a volunteer-run charity, MAS is funded by donations from satisfied non profit clients.

Our 50+ Volunteer Consultants are professionals who want to give back using the skills we learned in our careers. Our mission is to build capacity in the non profit sector.

Email us:

If your charity is interested in participating, send a quick email outlining how you plan to communicate with your donors to obtain their submissions.

If your charity is interested in learning the results but cannot participate, send an email to get updates.

Lelia MacDonald
MAS Volunteer Consultant, Marketing Practice Leader