This blog is the first installment of an IOM summer series on applying research principles to your everyday work.
Sometimes “research” seems like some this huge, daunting task that is only for academics and highly educated professionals. This is just not true! There are many ways in which you can embed and apply research principles in your everyday work within your non-profit, association and/or chamber.
My number one mantra is data is good! Let’s say it together, data is our friend. Problems begin when we have data but don’t use it, or collect data without a plan on how we employ it in our decision-making process. Research is not always difficult and you can make it manageable in your everyday life so that your organization succeeds. Everyone is time crunched and has limited resources, so it may be helpful to think about some easy tips that may leverage a lot within your organization. In the next three installments of this series, we will walk through some steps and tips for applying research principles in your everyday work.
Step 1: Establish Objectives/Goals
The first thing to think about is what information you need or what question you need to answer. Think about what assumptions need challenging and what final information you want to know to apply within your organization. For example, what made an event successful, why some members are more satisfied than others, or what prompts our donors to give? Establishing a solid objective at the beginning, that is linked to your final outcome or result, will help you and your team be clear about how to organize the next steps.
Step 2: Assess Available Resources
Once you know your objective, you need to evaluate what kinds of resources are available to you and your organization, and how much of these you have. What is your budget? What type of staffing is available? Do you need to get leadership buy-in for this effort to be successful? Do you need to have phases or stages so that you can build resources to support the ultimate end goal? Remember, resources are key and should be used evaluated accurately and then used to inform your decisions throughout all the next steps.
- It is often helpful to think about your end goal or outcome, and then work backwards from there. Sometimes establishing objectives seems daunting, but it can be as simple as “I want to show my board that our annual 4th of July event is meaningful to the community.”
- Data can help you tell a story or enhance what your organization is already doing. Instead of evaluating a big new initiative, being mindful that data can help you refine and complement existing efforts.
Next month in the second installment of this series, we will be discussing steps 3 and 4 where you can collect data and execute your approach. Stay tuned!