Nonprofit Branding: How to Better Understand Your Audience

person holding a red paper heart in his hands

Wondering what your target audience thinks about your nonprofit organization? Or how to grow community awareness for your local cause?

Enter brand-equity studies can help answer these questions and maximize the efforts of your nonprofit branding.

Typical goals and objectives for brand equity surveys include measuring the top of mind awareness, aided awareness, word association, perception, drivers to perception, and more. 

Learn more about how to approach nonprofit market research, example questions to consider, and how to use a respondent persona below!

Conducting a Branding Survey for Nonprofits

Recently, a nonprofit partnered with Drive Research to measure brand equity within its target market. 

To address the objectives at hand, we created a custom online survey that involved the following steps:

  • Create a market research proposal for our clients to review the timeline, process, and costs
  • Schedule a kickoff meeting so that the nonprofit can meet its dedicated project team and discuss objectives
  • Based on the client's objectives we wrote a custom online survey
  • The survey was approved by the client, allowing us to move forward with programming
  • We put the survey into fieldwork using third-party panels and targeted Facebook ads to the client's target market
  • After a few weeks, we close the survey and begin cleaning the data
  • Once the survey data passes our quality checks, we begin reporting and analyzing the findings
  • The nonprofit received a comprehensive market research report 
  • Our team met with the client for a debrief discussion where we walked through the report and discussed actionable recommendations based on their audience's feedback

The survey took an average of 10 minutes to complete and included 30 questions. The survey received 244 responses. Fieldwork for the survey began on March 11 and lasted until March 28, 2022. 

With a probabilistic sample, a total of 244 responses at the 95% confidence level offers a 6% margin of error.

If the survey were conducted with another random pool of 244 respondents, the results would yield within +6% or -6% of the stated totals in the reports. 

💡 The Key Takeaway: The approach for a brand equity study is typically customized to the organization's unique needs. This may include the target market, goals, objectives, survey length, and more.

Brand Equity Questions for Non-Profit Organizations 

Below are example questions to consider using in a brand equity survey for a non-profit organization. Learn more about each of the questions below!

1. Which of the following non-profit organizations are you aware of? Select one.

Why this question is important: This question measures aided awareness for a non-profit organization and selected competitors. It can be really helpful to see which segments of the organization’s target audience has high versus low awareness and how the metrics compare to key competitors.

2. Thinking about [example non-profit organization], which aspects are you familiar with? Select all that apply.

Why this question is important: This question takes awareness a step further and measures the awareness of specific offerings or events offered by the organization. It can be really helpful to understand which aspects have high awareness and which could benefit from additional marketing efforts.

3. What is your perception of [example non-profit organization]? Select a rating.

Why this question is important: Perception is a valuable metric to understand. Similar to awareness, these results can measure the results for selected competitors and it can be used to understand which segments of the target market have lower versus higher perceptions. Those with lower or more negative perceptions would benefit from additional marketing efforts.  

4. Why do you have a [selected rating] perception of [example non-profit organization]? Enter your response below.

Why this question is important: Once we have a better understanding of the perception of the brand within a market, it’s really helpful to understand the drivers of those perceptions. This question answers just that!

5. Which of the following words or phrases best describe [example non-profit organization]?

Why this question is important: Similar to perception, word/phrase association can supplement the learnings from the questions regarding perception. It can be really interesting to see which words/phrases pop among the audience as a whole as well as specific segments.

6. Where have you seen or heard information about [example non-profit organization] in the past 3 months? Select all that apply.

Why this question is important: Wondering which sources of awareness the target audience is more likely to recall? This question will tell you which sources have the most recall, the percentage of the target audience that can recall that information, and which segments of the audience are more likely to recall specific sources. 

7. What is the best way to inform you about news/updates for [example non-profit organization]? Select all that apply. 

Why this question is important: Taking sources of awareness a step further, this question measures preferred communication sources. Wondering how to spend your time and marketing dollars? This question will help you allocate those efforts.

💡 The Key Takeaway: These questions measure awareness, awareness of events/offerings, perception, stated drivers to perception, word or phrase association, ad/information recall within the past 3 months, and communication preferences. Each of these questions can be uniquely customized to the needs of a non-profit organization.  

What is a Respondent Persona and How is it Used? 

A respondent persona is compiled based on themed profiling and behavioral traits from the data.

It is not an actual respondent, but rather a representation of a typical collection of attitudes from the market research. Note: Actual results from this study are kept confidential with the end client. 

Here’s an abbreviated example of a respondent persona:

Name: Katie

Age: 33 (Millennial)

Location: [Example location]


  • Katie lives in a suburban neighborhood near [example location] with her daughter, Amelia (age 5), and her husband, Mike (age 36).
  • Amelia’s favorite activities are [example activities]. 
  • Katie is aware of [example non-profit]. She knows about the [example non-profit offerings/events]. Katie also doesn’t know [example non-profit offerings/events]. 
  • Katie has a positive perception of [example non-profit]. She thinks it could be [example perception results].
  • Katie has chatted with other moms about [example non-profit] recently, but the best way to reach out to her in the future is through [example communication preferences].

💡 The Key Takeaway: Respondent personas are a great way to comprehend the overall results from brand equity studies. Marketing teams like to use these personas when creating content to ensure it’s created and targeted with its target audience in mind.

Learn More About Non-Profits Brand Equity Studies

Drive Research is a market research company located in Syracuse, NY. Our team has the knowledge and tools to design a robust brand equity study, should it be the right fit for your non-profit organization.

Interested in learning more about our market research services? Reach out through any of the four ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily taylor about the author

Emily Taylor

As a Senior Research Analyst, Emily is approaching a decade of experience in the market research industry and loves to challenge the status quo. She is a certified VoC professional with a passion for storytelling.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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