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In Canada, Nielsen Volunteers Donate Time and Skill to Nonprofits

3 minute read | February 2016

For organizations without a clear line of sight into how their messaging resonates with current and potential supporters, great messages can often miss their intended audiences.

To help a broad group of Canadian nonprofit organizations gain valuable insights on potential charitable donors, a team of Nielsen volunteers provided assistance through skills-based volunteering under our global corporate social responsibility program, Nielsen Cares, for the second year in a row. Jeff Dionne, consumer analyst at Nielsen, led the cross-functional team of more than 40 Nielsen volunteers, along with Dionne Daley, senior market analyst at Nielsen.

The team used Nielsen’s unique data capabilities to deliver actionable insights for local nonprofit organizations and Canadian chapters of global nonprofits. The groups primarily leveraged data from Nielsen’s Homescan Household Panel along with Spectra, a product that enables clients to identify their most strategic consumers for marketing execution by integrating multiple data sources with information on consumer demographic characteristics and behaviors like media propensities, leisure activities and shopping locations.

“Nielsen is in a unique position in its ability to support nonprofits with market research,” said Jeff Dionne. “Our efforts provide insights on potential charitable donors that participating organizations leverage to direct strategy and make an uncommon impact in local and global communities.”

In order to most efficiently and effectively help organizations with their strategy, the Nielsen team gathered data on Canadian consumers that would equip the nonprofits in the study with greater insights going forward. The teams focused on areas like consumers’ awareness of a particular nonprofit brand compared to others in its category and overall, how many of those aware consumers also made a monetary donation or volunteered with the organization in the past 12 months, and the preferred mediums that organizations should use to reach current and potential supporters.

By using Nielsen’s BehaviorScape framework, the teams were also able to share the key characteristics of supporters, like their age, lifestyle and income level. Nonprofits can use these insights when seeking partnerships with other brands or retailers with shared audiences or missions.

Some of the key findings across the 17 nonprofit presentations included:

  • 79% of Canadians support charitable causes, with food banks as the leading cause Canadians say they support (39%)
  • The approach to outreach matters: 44% of non-Millennials engage with nonprofits through direct mail, while Millennials prefer email communications (52%)
  • The nonprofit message should be informative and functional, as 41% and 37%, respectively, of Canadians prefer these types of content over emotional content (7%)
  • 37% of Canadians donate to nonprofits through workplace programs, citing convenience as the key factor
  • Messaging requires transparency: 91% of Canadians indicated that it is important for organizations to communicate how monetary donations are distributed

For the nonprofits involved in the project, the benefits were clear.

“We are challenged to work as efficiently as possible through the leanest, most targeted strategies for revenue growth, but the price point for the market research that would allow us to operate this way is a clear barrier,” said Aaron Sanderson, director of development at War Child Canada, a nonprofit dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance to war-affected children. “Nielsen’s charitable insights help to resolve this. This is a form of strategic philanthropy that clearly addresses a sector-wide need.”

For the Nielsen associates on the project, it was an opportunity to use their skills and expertise in a new context. And for at least one of the volunteers, Stephanie Chiu, associate analyst at Nielsen, it was an opportunity to realize a vision she’d had even before beginning her career at Nielsen.

“It was very valuable to gain some exposure to the Homescan and survey data, especially within the capacity of skills-based volunteering rather than normal day-to-day Nielsen work,” said Chiu. “Skills-based volunteering is something I read that Nielsen did before I even joined the company, so it was really great to have the chance to get involved.”

Photo credit: War Child Canada 2016.