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Research Aid: widening access to research for smaller charities


05-07-2012

MRS is setting up a network called Research Aid to help smaller charities realise the benefits evidence from research can deliver.

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Research Aid is a volunteer network that consists of market research professionals who are willing to help smaller charities:

  • understand the evidence they currently have access to and how it may be used
  • create a benefits statement for funding
  • write an effective brief that agencies can respond to
  • put them in touch with those that may be able to help further.

The initiative is aimed at charities that are not already active with a market research company and that would not otherwise use market research. By helping charities realise the benefits evidence from research can deliver, MRS expects that these charities will incorporate research into their business plans, thereby growing the market.

Social responsibility is an ingrained, and some would say, founding principle of the market research sector. Many agencies already provide pro bono or discounted rates and this network would allow charities to find these providers.

  • The service provided to charities will not replace paid research work. Research Aid will help charities identify their need, write a brief and work out benefits/ ROI from research, and then put them in touch with those who can help.

  • Geoffrey Roughton, Chairman of Research Aid said: “Larger charities know about us. But there are thousands of smaller charities who have never heard of how our skills can help them.

“Charities are trying to become better at evaluating their outcomes. We can help them. Market researchers might not save the world, but we can certainly help others make it a better place. Do join.”

Regardless of size, charities need data at all levels within their structure; both to influence the individual behaviours of volunteers working on a broad spectrum of local activities and to analyse the overall achievements and direction of the organisation at the centre.

Jane Frost, MRS Chief Executive said: “The research community is in a unique position to help charities generate the evidence they need to satisfy their supporters and stakeholders. They need this evidence to survive.”

This initiative is still in its early stages of development and MRS encourages feedback from members to help shape it as well as registering their interest to participate in Research Aid. 

How will it work?

  • Research Aid will help charities identify their need, write a brief and work out benefits/ ROI from research, and then put them in touch with those who can help.
  • The Chairman of the group will be Geoffrey Roughton.
  • The service provided to charities will not replace paid research work.
  • Many agencies already provide pro-bono or discounted rates and this would allow charities to find these providers.
  • Research Aid can supplement present activities and also give other MRS members, who may wish to make their own contribution, a framework for doing so.
  • Activities of the group would be subject to the MRS standards and code of conduct.
  • Only members / retired members of the MRS can join this scheme.
  • A framework with some simple procedures will be created to prevent bottlenecks in the process and establish the terms of engagement between members and charities. This will also include guidelines for charities to help them write their brief.

Join the Research Aid network

If you are a member and you would like to register your interest in joining the network and/or provide us with feedback to help shape the initiative, please email researchaid@mrs.org.uk
 
If you are a charity and would like know more about finding someone to help you, please email: researchaid@mrs.org.uk. Research Aid is, itself, run on a voluntary basis and a steering group will assess and guide applications. All we need is a brief description of the need or an outline of the help required. If suitable for the scheme and the charity is not already active with a market research company, these details will be circulated among a panel of research professionals willing to help charities with their skills. These individuals will then contact the charity to discuss how best to achieve the project's objectives and provide appropriate proposals, including any cost estimates for elements outside the arrangement.
 
Some projects might involve the need for a budget. A Research Aid professional may well be able to advise. They can direct charities to appropriate service providers who may themselves offer services at a reduced or minimal cost.

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