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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

MRS creates Research Aid pro bono charity initiative

UK— The Market Research Society (MRS) is creating a network of research companies to provide pro bono work for charities, called Research Aid. The initiative will be chaired by research industry veteran Geoffrey Roughton.

Research Aid will act as a broker for charities who might need survey research skills. 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. 

Under the initiative, the MRS will also provide guidelines for charities to help them write their briefs and ensure that their activities are compliant with the MRS standards and code of conduct.

Roughton 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.”

Jane Frost, MRS chief executive, added: “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.”

Only members or retired members of the MRS can offer pro bono work through this scheme. Charities seeking pro bono support will submit a brief to the steering group who will circulate to members that have offered their services. Any subsequent engagement would be between the charity and the member.

Interested parties can email researchaid@mrs.org.uk for more information.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • My thoughts are a bit divided on this.

    I work for a small charity that has provided support (including research) to other charitable groups for over a decade. So I'm glad to see something new to help the sector in difficult times.

    In the Good Old Days we got council and Big Lottery grants to do this support and research work. In future I'm mostly expected to sell our services, so that my organisation becomes "sustainable" when all of the public funding for charities has run out.

    Of course it helps that our provincial and low-tech costs are much less than larger research bodies. And you are quite right that research can provide just the sort of evidence that smaller charities need now to justify their activities to funders. So it’s nice for my charity to be potentially a low-cost player, with a long track record in an expanding market.

    I think you will understand, therefore, why I'm the tiniest bit miffed that the professional body to which I pay my subs (usually out of my own pocket as my employer can't really afford it) seems to be undercutting me by arranging for free research to be available to my potential customers.

    Perhaps my solution is to charge for research but then subcontract the actual work to one of your pro-bono suppliers

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