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When to Use Donations as a Qualitative Research Recruitment Incentive

In today's society, it can be hard to get something for nothing. When people are asked to do something, even if it is easy or does not take a lot of time, they want something in return. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult for qualitative market researchers to find participants unless they offer some kind of recruitment incentive. However, compensation for participation is not a black-and-white issue. There are a variety of factors that must be taken into consideration, which can help you determine whether you should offer donations as a recruitment incentive, or find a different type of compensation for participants.

Donations Can be a Valuable Recruitment Incentive for Qualitative Market Research

Target Participants

Donations are an effective incentive for participants who have a high net worth and who are high-level executives. For this type of participants, the level of monetary compensation would have to be significant, which is not always feasible for qualitative market research. However, since the insights offered by high-level executives are valuable for market research, so they should be included. Offering a donation in place of monetary or other compensation will not only appeal to their charitable sides, but will keep budget from limiting participation in the research.

Target Circumstances

Budget is often a concern when determining whether or not donations are the best recruitment incentive. When budget is limited, donations can provide a way to ensure that participants are compensated adequately for their time. This is particularly true if the sample group is large or, as discussed above, high-level executives who are used to a certain level of monetary compensation. If budget is limited, using donations can ensure that all participants can be compensated and that the compensation will not prevent the market research from being completed.


One consideration in deciding whether or not to use donations as recruitment incentive is the rules of both the organization conducting the research and the rules guiding the participants. Some organizations prohibit employees from receiving compensation from research. Some organizations additionally prohibit employees receiving gifts of any kind. Offering donations on behalf of the participants to a charitable organization of their choice will prevent this rule from being violated so there is no legal or ethical concern.

Donations as a recruitment incentive can be a valuable way to boost participation and make sure that participants feel compensated for their time and effort. There are a variety of ways to offer incentives, and by examining all the factors, your organization can decide whether donations are the best path for your market research efforts.

Topics: recruitment, , incentives , qualitative market research

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