Interpreting and analysing qualitative and quantitative data is a great way to get in-depth knowledge about supporters, users and beneficiaries. This helps ensure an organisation’s work is appropriate and effective.

Insight can come from many sources, including:

  • Market and brand research (eg competitor analysis; brand awareness, perception and association; sentiment analysis; market segmentation)
  • Fundraising database data
  • Analytics data (eg user location, most popular content, donation patterns)
  • Facebook audience profiles
  • Email statistics (eg most popular content by clicks and opens)
  • Supporter and/or website user surveys

Accurate and up-to-date insight helps organisations to develop programmes, products, services and communications that respond to people’s real needs and wants. Making decisions based purely on assumptions is dangerous ground. Organisations can end up wasting time, money and effort on doing the wrong things.

Some of these activities are more expensive and time-intensive than others. But not investing in research is a false economy.

Things to think about

  • Do you have audience profiles which are shared across teams?
  • How widely is audience insight used in your communications planning?

Insight: five levels of maturity

1. Gathering

Insights are gathered but are used inconsistently.

2. Understanding

Insights from more than one source are combined to build understanding.

3. Analysing

Knowledge about who people are is combined with behavioural insights.

4. Acting on

Insights are used to shape planning and delivery.

5. Learning from

All work is grounded in rich, up-to-date insight. Work is improved upon iteratively.


Just Enough Research by Erika Hall is a guide to research methods you can implement right away, whatever the size of your team or budget. The second edition came out in November 2019.

The Eden Stanley Group’s free guide for building an audience-centred strategy, The Right Wavelength, is full of statistics and case studies that will help make the case to your colleagues.

Average score

Overall, for this competency, organisations average out at level 2.3.

Scores by year

These graphs show the average scores for this competency over the last few years, expressed as a percentage.

  • 2020 60% 60%
  • 2019 62% 62%
  • 2018 60% 60%
  • 2017 56% 56%
  • 2016 40% 40%