Published: 19 November 2012

How to launch your charity’s research successfully

Every week charities launch new research findings. It’s a subject close to my heart as at Lasa we recently launched our report Digital: what every charity leader should know.

We were delighted with the results. As I write, it’s had almost 9,000 views on Slideshare and received good coverage in the national and trade press and excellent feedback from our stakeholders.

I’d like to share some thoughts on what makes a good charity research launch.

1. Create a strong research concept. As a marketer, I’d recommend getting involved in brainstorming and shaping the research concept if you can. It’s never too early to start advising on the launch.To coincide with our programme of events on technology issues for charities, we wanted to help them engage more effectively with digital. This meant reaching sector decision makers; no easy task due to demands on their time. I worked alongside our technology team on the report, and we came up with the idea of asking opinion leaders to share their insights into how digital can help charity CEOs and directors build a more sustainable sector. We didn’t want to create another dry looking report; we wanted the medium to enhance the message. Inspired by CharityComms’ 2020 initiative two years ago, we asked participants, from Martha Lane Fox to Beth Kanterto summarise their five key points on one slide each.
 

2. Decide on a strong call to action. A good piece of research includes a clear, compelling ‘call to arms’ for your stakeholders. What do you want to happen as a result of your research? Do you want MPs to push for a change in the law? Or people to know about the symptoms of a particular illness? Our call to action was that we wanted charity leaders to sit up and start using digital to tackle the challenges the sector is facing.
 

3. Get key stakeholders excited about it. You’re probably talking to the people you want to influence through your research already or, at least, speaking to groups who they’d listen to. Try to get opinion leaders involved in your research, whether it’s by asking them to promote it or participate. Starting a very topical research project may be newsworthy in itself. Two years ago we conducted some research into what ‘Big Society’ meant to charities and because it was such a hot issue the media covered it, which boosted the survey’s response rate.
 

4. Use press. The press love stats and new research. I approached The Guardian Voluntary Sector Network and offered them an exclusive on the report launch. A high profile exclusive can boost press coverage, and we also received good coverage in the charity trade press, which was what we were looking for. If you can produce some individual case studies that illustrate your main research findings then that will bring it to life.
 

5. Maximise the reach of your launch. To do this we focused on integrated use of channels from direct marketing to social media and press. Given the subject of the report, we focused on Twitter and offered stakeholders the chance to submit their own insights using the hashtag #lasaleaders.
 

6. Evaluate. We tracked the response to the report, including press coverage and social media. When measuring the latter, my top tip is to do it ASAP and record it. We measured the reach of the hashtag using the free Hashtracking tool but remember it only keeps results from the last 24 hours.

The success of your report doesn’t need to end with the launch. Think how your charity can leverage your research as an asset in the future. A good, well received piece of research could help reposition your charity and highlight its expertise. For example, our CEO has been offered some high profile speaking opportunities off the back of our report. Could your research secure your charity a meeting with that elusive funder or MP?


Zoe Amar, director, Zoe Amar Digital

Zoe Amar is founder and director of Zoe Amar Digital, a charity marketing and digital communications consultancy who've worked with Action Aid, CAF, Crimestoppers and many other great charities. She also blogs for The Guardian. Zoe shares charity marketing resources over at www.zoeamar.com and @zoeamar