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How And Why To Run A Nonprofit Focus Group

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If you’re looking to collect feedback from your constituents, you may want to consider holding a nonprofit focus group. It can offer a great way to gain access to invaluable information from your supporters and local community members.

What’s the point of a nonprofit focus group and when should you hold one?

Although there are many benefits to holding a nonprofit focus group, the main goal is to collect specific data from a certain group of people. Once you have those results in hand, you’ll have actionable insights that can inform what your nonprofit does next.

With that in mind, when should you hold a nonprofit focus group? You might want to hold one when doing things like: 

  • Evaluating your organization’s potential new brand identity
  • Launching a new fundraising venture
  • Looking for ways to improve your services
  • Understanding how your supporters feel about the work you do
  • Brainstorming new fundraising or programming ideas
  • Getting feedback on particular events, online platforms you use, how easy it is to place donations online, and more
  • Establishing how far public awareness of your nonprofit reaches into the community
  • Looking for donor feedback 

How do you organize a nonprofit focus group?

When preparing to hold a nonprofit focus group, you need to do the following:

  • Establish a goal for the focus group.
  • Come up with the questions you’re going to ask
  • Invite the participants.
  • Select a moderator to run the focus group. 
  • Inform the group how the focus group will work, what information you’re going to collect, and how the information will be used. 
  • Allow plenty of space within the discussion for all voices to be heard. 
  • Make sure any recording software you’re using is working ahead of time. 

How many people should you invite to a nonprofit focus group?

If you’re hosting a focus group online, you can start with between seven and ten people. If you’re gathering in person, you can host up to two dozen people. Although you might be eager to collect a lot of data, keep in mind that you’ll get better results if you only invite the number of participants you can easily manage.  

When should you start planning a nonprofit focus group?

The general idea is to allow about six to eight weeks from start to completion. This gives you time to define exactly who you want to attend, figure out the logistics, and prepare for the group.

Should you pay people to participate in a nonprofit focus group?

This depends on who you can get to participate and what kind of information you’re looking for. You’re likely to get a higher number of eager participants if you pay them or offer them some kind of incentive to participate, but how many of them will have the kind of valuable information you require is up for debate. 

With a little luck, you can get your groups together with very little overhead. If you can’t offer them something ahead of time, you might want to send an online gift card to the recipient afterwards. It will be a welcome surprise!

Other things to keep in mind

Criticism is valuable.

You might hold a focus group only to find that everyone thinks you’re off the mark. Although that feedback can hurt or disappoint you, you need to put your ego aside. 

The more honest the feedback, the more you can learn, and the greater value that focus group is to you. Actively encourage a very critical evaluation. You want their unguarded opinions and complete honesty.

Make sure you can easily share your results.

Once you’ve analyzed the results, print out your report. A report helps you define exactly what data you received, quantify conclusions, and share your findings. It may seem like an afterthought, but it’ll make a huge difference when presenting the findings to other stakeholders or nonprofit employees. 

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