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Campbell Rinker provides marketing research services such as surveys, focus groups and database analysis of donors, members, alumni, students and prospects to charities, associations, schools and the companies that serve them.


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Depth (in-depth) interviews are a research tool that can, when properly used, provide many of the same benefits as focus groups. A depth interview consists of a professional research interviewer discussing research topics with the respondent. Unlike surveys, respondents are encouraged to go into great detail and provide thoughtful, unaided responses. Thus, depth interviews delve deeper into topics than surveys. The interviewer follows a pre-approved discussion guide to ensure that all of the pre-approved topics are discussed.

The purpose of these depth interviews is to conduct qualitative research among a dispersed audience, like the donors, members, or customers to your organization. The research design will reveal the perceptions, attitudes and motivations of these constituents through questions similar to those that could be posed to a focus group.

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Case Study

In 2004, Campbell Rinker was selected to conduct qualitative research in the form of focus groups and depth interviews among lapsed donors, followed by a phone survey of 3,000 lapsed and active donors to charitable causes. Donor names were contributed by ten nonprofits representing different sectors and mission statements. All donors were selected using the same criteria.

The goal of this research was to identify the chief causes of lapsing, and classify donors in a way that allows nonprofit marketers to understand the mindset of a lapsed donor and communicate more effectively to them.

The qualitative research was instrumental in shaping the scope, sequence, and areas of inquiry for the survey questionnaire. Several methods of exploratory analysis were used to evaluate the resulting study data and support the conclusions delivered in the final report.

Chief among the outcomes of this study were the discovery of three essential categories of lapsed donors: Idles, Intentionals, and “In-betweeners.” Furthermore, the study identifies the specific traits that comprise the traits, attitudes, and motivations of each of these donor segments. Finally, the study yielded tremendous insight into the universal traits donors consider important for an organization, the initial causes for their lapsing, and their likelihood to renew their giving behavior if they can be convinced that the organization still embodies the traits they hold to be important.

This study is the topic of a book entitled The Disappearing Donor, published by the consulting firm that sponsored the study. Study highlights were presented at the 2006 AFP International Fundraising Conference, and have been cited in the Chronicle of Philanthropy (April 20, 2006). An article regarding the study was published in the July-August 2006 issue of Advancing Philosophyand in Contributions magazine in the Fall of 2006.