Nonprofit Organizations and the Future of Market Research

“I’m pleased that my latest article — about the role of non-profit organizations in market research — has been published on the Quirks blog. We’ve republished it below.”

On a related note, MRII is seeking a new Executive Director — learn more and apply here.

Wait… there’s a nonprofit organization devoted to market research? I don’t get it.

I’ve heard that a lot during my tenure as Executive Director of Market Research Institute International, a nonprofit devoted to education and training for research and insights professionals.

In fact, we are just one of a number of nonprofit organizations trying to bolster our profession, help people advance their careers and, in true nonprofit fashion, make the world a better place.

In our case, MRII was born of a collaboration between the nonprofit Market Research Association (which has since evolved into the Insights Association) and the University of Georgia. Together, we’ve spent the past quarter-century creating continuing education courses on market research. Our courses serve many purposes. 

  • Our research has shown that about 80% of market research professionals have no formal training in the field, so we offer steppingstones for early-to-mid-career professionals to enter the field and quickly get on a path toward professional growth. 
  • About half of our courses are taken by people who live outside the U.S., and we have several initiatives to offer courses specifically to women in countries where women are excluded from the formal educational system. 
  • We create free educational webinars on a range of topics, including research methodology, consumer trends, entrepreneurship and professional development.
  • We offer awards (free courses) to deserving learners who may lack the financial resources to pay for them.
  • We offer diversity awards to researchers from under-served populations, and/or who are doing research to promote inclusion and social justice.
  • We serve as a hub for companies looking to do good. More than a dozen leading companies show their support for our profession by sponsoring us and leveraging our platform to launch their own pro-social initiatives.
  • In addition to helping individual learners, we support client-side and supplier-side market research companies who offer our courses to attract, develop and retain employees.

Of course, we aren’t the only nonprofit in the research and insights field. Industry associations such as ESOMAR and the Insights Association are nonprofits. The Great Reset is an award-winning nonprofit founded by market researcher Kalinda Fisher, and it uses qualitative research approaches to bring diverse groups of people together to have meaningful conversations on issues of politics, social class and race. Many researchers I know volunteer their time to informally help organizations in their community with their research expertise.

There are many ways and many levels that professionals in our field can give back. For example, I’ve been serving as Executive Director for MRII, handling all operational aspects of the organization. Now I’m moving to a position on our all-volunteer board of directors.

I’ve really enjoyed my career in market research. It has been intellectually challenging, I’ve met great people and I do believe in the social benefit of growing our economy by helping companies deliver what people really want. But I’ve always had a bit of regret that I didn’t choose a career path that would more directly help people live better lives. Getting involved with nonprofits has helped me work at the intersection of commerce and education, and has added a great element of meaning to my career.

Learn More –> Here

Apply Now –>  Here

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