Drakes Bay Fundraising
A Next Generation Fundraising Company

Archive for July, 2013

A Dope Slap

Posted by Christopher Dann
Thursday July 25, 2013
Categories: Uncategorized

This lead article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s e-mailed headlines yesterday:

Philanthropy Today


We just had to respond, and here’s what we added to their comments pages:

Once again the Chronicle has reported research developed by a vendor of services the research supports without noting the obvious conflicts of interests. Journalists should do that. More importantly, journalists would investigate carefully the methodologies of all such studies to determine or at least question whether or not conclusions being drawn by the research sponsors can be reliably projected to the universes they claim to be representing. Cursory investigation — just a few questions — would reveal that most of the research the Chronicle reports is based on non-probability sampling that has undisclosed and perhaps unfathomable bias and error.

Quoting a June 2013 report issued by the American Association of Public Opinion Research on non-probability sampling, “Transparency is essential. Whenever non-probability sampling methods are used, there is a higher burden than that carried by probability samples to describe the methods used to draw the sample, collect the data, and make inferences. Too many online surveys consistently fail to include information that is adequate to assess their methodology.”

The nonprofit world’s trade press is a chronic practitioner of press pass-along articles someone wants to be treated as news. And the managing editors appear especially gullible about and vulnerable to research reports.

The nonprofit sector — each sub-sector in particular — has never needed disciplined quantitative research more than it does now.  That means that samples are drawn with the probability that each and every person of the universe (meaning the subject population) being studied has an equal chance of being in the sample. This is hard and increasingly expensive to accomplish. But in a field in which fractions of percentage points have significant financial meaning, buying error-prone, biasing research methods on the cheap is truly a waste of money.

Better to keep guessing.

Next Generation Fundraising and Drakes Bay Fundraising merged in the fall of 2013, bringing the longstanding professional acquaintances of their four principals – Tim Oleary, Carol Leister, Cindy Germain, and Christopher Dann – into a single company and combining the special resources and experiences of each to provide clients greater breadth and depth of service.

For more information about Next Generation Fundraising, click here.