Skewed AMA Non-Profit Research Report

Posted on August 5, 2008. Filed under: Fundraising, Leadership, Non-profits | Tags: |

Skewed Research Report Results – American Marketing Association Non-profit Research Report

Where were the non-profit communicators? Less than 1% responded to the survey.

The American Marketing Association just released a report about the communication and marketing efforts of non-profits which was conducted by the firm LipmanHearne, which is on the web at, where you can get a copy of the report.

The report has six findings, including:

Finding #5 “Marketing Spending for half of non-profits is small, reflecting the small size of most organizations.”
A total of 56% had less than +$100,000 to spend, and 42% were overseen by one individual.

Now you can argue that this finding is like finding that “The sun rises in the East.” It’s not really a surprise.

What is a surprise is the absolutely abysmal response rate that got on the surveys they sent out. In their methodology section, it says that Lipman Hearne sent surveys out to 125,000 people (It does not say if these were all AMA members or what the source of the names was). They received 1,012 responses, which is a response rate of 0.8% (zero point 8) or less than 1 percent.

Setting aside that there are 1.4 million non-profits, and we don’t know how they came up with the 125,000 names, my question is where were the other 99% who did not respond? I certainly don’t expect it to be 100%, but for a survey sent to 125,000 people that ostensibly care about the non-profit sector; I was shocked to see how few responded.

The impact of this low response rate is that the findings are skewed to large organizations, for example 15% of the respondents have a marketing budget greater than half a million dollars, and half of these (8%) have a marketing budget of greater than $1 million!

Read the report, it is interesting, and the two points I’m still left with are:

1. Where were the non-profit communicators?

Was this a design error in who the survey was sent to, or is “marketing” still such a taboo word in the non-profit sector that the people who received the report did not want to respond?

2. Do not use this report as an accurate assessment of marketing in the non-profit sector. It’s valuable and its findings certainly pertain to larger non-profits, but it simply doesn’t address the issues of smaller non-profits.


Bill Huddleston

I sent these questions to Lipmann Hearne, no reply yet, I’ll post their answers if they do respond.

Regarding the AMA Non-profit Marketing Research Report

1. Who were people that were sent the original survey (e.g. were they AMA members, etc – the 125,000)

2. What’s your assessment of the low response rate (1012 out of 125,000)?

Bill Huddleston
MPA in Nonprofit Management


Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

2 Responses to “Skewed AMA Non-Profit Research Report”

RSS Feed for CFC Treasures by Bill Huddleston Comments RSS Feed

Surprising they would even post that; one part a testament to their commitment to release full data, one part bravado to assert any sort of findings with such an abysmal RR.

I agree, I was surprised that they released it all.


Where's The Comment Form?


    Fundraising and Leadership Development through workplace giving, CFC = Combined Federal Campaign


    Subscribe Via RSS

    • Subscribe with Bloglines
    • Add your feed to Newsburst from CNET
    • Subscribe in Google Reader
    • Add to My Yahoo!
    • Subscribe in NewsGator Online
    • The latest comments to all posts in RSS


Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

%d bloggers like this: