Need to do more with less? How Research can steer you in the right direction

By: Amanda Barna and Michelle Henry

The last few months Ohio has waited with uncertainty for the new state budget to come out. Many of our clients saw significant cuts in state and local funding. Organizations everywhere are being asked to do more with fewer resources. So why is now the time to spend resources on research? With budgets being smaller than ever it is more important than ever to make sure that you are spending your money in the right areas.

Here are 5 ways that research can be used to maximize your resources:

  1. The public is better informed.
    Tighter budgets affect households as well as organizations these days. While there is compassion and understanding of the needs in the community, people are not as easily convinced as in the past. An organization funded largely by donations and tax levies will need to make sure services are focused in the areas of greatest need. Are your services in line with the needs of your target and funding populations? Do they know who you are and what you do?
  2. Reaching the public is getting more difficult and more expensive.
    As technology advances, traditional methods of reaching people through radio and tv spots, mail and advertisements have become more challenging. At the same time the cost of running ads, putting up signs and purchasing air space is on the rise. Assessing and evaluating marketing and PR campaigns will stretch your dollars even further. Are you certain that your marketing efforts are bringing you a return on investment by reaching your target audience?
  3. Grant funding is more competitive.
    The days of ease in requesting funding to start up or finance a non-profit based on a valuable and worthy mission are gone. Agencies, organizations and foundations that provide funding are asking for more data to support requests for additional or continued funding. In addition many grant funders require data to substantiate the need for your service, the success of your program, or both. Imagine there are two organizations that both provide programs for at-risk youth and one has surveyed all youth that participated in the program to assess success in achieving outcomes and the other has not. Both organizations have applied for a grant from a local foundation to expand services. Which organization do you think is more likely to get the grant?
  4. Requirements for data are on the rise.
    As budgets shrink, there is a call to justify where the dollars are being spent. Public agencies are being asked to provide this justification in the form of data supporting their success in their mission. For example the IRS now requires that hospitals conduct a community health needs assessment every three years to retain their non-profit status. What requirements does your organization have to meet?
  5. To find out what you don’t know.
    Whoever said ‘What you don’t know can’t hurt you’ didn’t live in today’s economy. Finding out what you don’t know is the new secret to success. Finding out what motivates your employees, satisfies your customers and makes your organization or services remarkable are the keys to growth and profitability. Are there things that you don’t know that are holding you back?