Nonprofit UX Research Services

Need to conduct usability testing on an association website or advocacy platform? Need to run user research with members, donors, staff, or other audiences? Our small research agency has deep experience working with a wide range of nonprofit organizations, including:

  • Educational institutions like Smithsonian and PBS
  • National associations like AARP and NAACP
  • Mission-driven organizations like PetSmart Charities
  • Global NGOs like Rainforest Alliance

Nonprofit User Research Projects

PBS — Prototype User Testing

Prototype user experience testing with 12 pairs of parents and young children, focused on digital account usage and login flows. Facilitated a remote workshop with project stakeholders to analyze and act on user research.

PetSmart Charities — Research Program

Built and operationalized a recurring user research cycle. Each quarter we conducted usability testing and quantitative analysis of a different application flow or content area. Then we proposed design changes and led A/B testing.

Accountability Framework — UX Testing

2 rounds of remote moderated usability testing of a web platform to support ethical supply chains — backed by Rainforest Alliance, Greenpeace, Nature Conservancy, WWF, and other environmental nonprofits. Led 2 research analysis workshops.

Remote usability testing of an NGO web platform

Smithsonian — Navigation Testing

Navigation tree testing during a redesign of Smithsonian’s Global website. Research showed that users failed to find content on 50% of key tasks — and informed an overhaul of the information architecture while it was easy to change.

NAACP — Content Research

Multiple rounds of content testing for the NAACP Black Voices Change Lives website, in partnership with Provoc. This voter engagement program focused on increasing participation within the Black community in the 2020 election.

Banner Health — Research Program

Multi-year user research program to drive UX improvements for the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute’s registry portal. Ran monthly remote workshops where stakeholders observed research, reached consensus on problems, and brainstormed solutions.

March of Dimes — Journey Mapping

Collaborative research, journey mapping, and service design with this 80-year-old nonprofit to improve maternity care for women with low access to healthcare. 1:1 interviews followed by a remote workshop with 12 senior managers and directors.

user journey interview

Gates Foundation — Message Research

Early in the pandemic, we partnered with Provoc and others to support a Gates Foundation study related to COVID-19 treatments. Our focus was creating and optimizing digital content based on in-depth user research.

NFPA — Iterative Usability Testing

2 rounds of remote user testing and workshops for this 50,000-member global nonprofit. Tested a new web-based application that helps engineers learn about fire codes and standards for their projects. Rapid design changes in between rounds.

AARP — UX Audit & User Testing

Qualitative usability testing for a new AARP web property — with a mix of desktop and mobile users. Supplemented with a heuristic evaluation. Identified and prioritized 24 UX issues, and provided solution recommendations for each.

Humentum — Persona Research

One-on-one remote interviews with country managers and directors of large global NGOs — along with observation of users interacting with online content. Facilitated a stakeholder analysis workshop and a persona-building exercise.

“Great insights based on convincing user data. Loved the process and outcomes, despite the brutality of hearing some of the feedback.”

Ryan Thompson

Communications Manager, Rainforest Alliance

Our Process for Nonprofit Projects

While our consultants customize each project, many of our nonprofit user research projects follow this 5-step approach.


We reach alignment on your project goals, research questions, audiences, KPIs or OKRs, and logistics.


We deliver a summary report with all analysis findings, solution ideas and research recordings.


We facilitate a 1-day remote workshop with research observation, analysis, and ideation.


We conduct a rigorous recruiting and screening process to find representative users (e.g. members, donors, etc.)


We moderate 1:1 research sessions, and sometimes supplement this with quantitative research.

“Your team clearly did your research on NFPA and its products/solutions. This isn’t easy stuff and can be confusing. You instilled confidence.”

Susan McArdle

Sr. Product / Program Manager, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

Case Studies in Nonprofit User Research

How PetSmart Charities Combined Usability and A/B Testing to Increase a Signup Rate from 27% to 71%

A national nonprofit embraces a research cycle with qualitative and quantitative testing — and achieves a 167% lift on its top KPI.

Helping Mount Sinai Improve Cancer Patient Health Through Usability Testing

With a launch date looming, a team uses rapid UX testing to improve an app for oral cancer survivors.

“I saw a lot of behaviors in our users I never would have predicted.”

Megan Rowe

Social Media Editor, UVA Health System

Why Nonprofit Teams Pick Marketade

We’re small … and love big challenges.

As a nimble team, we’re a great fit for nonprofit teams facing bureaucratic hurdles or a slow-moving culture. While some agencies complain about these challenges, we embrace them. We adapt our process to meet your constraints and collaborate to find solutions or workarounds.

We take PII seriously.

Through our work with teams in nonprofit, government, healthcare, and financial services, we understand the importance of protecting PII and user/member privacy. We have integrated key steps into our recruitment, research, and reporting processes to meet the requirements of most nonprofit organizations.

We drive alignment.

Associations, NGOs, charities, and foundations are among the most siloed types of organizations. When teams lack alignment, research gets ignored by those who don’t like the conclusions, and fails to drive change. Our “team sport” approach brings a diverse group of stakeholders together to observe and analyze research. This process works wonders at building alignment on your biggest problems and opportunities.

We love complex products.

If you need research related to complex nonprofit software or applications, you’ll be in good hands with our consultants. We roll up their sleeves every day to interview users and moderate UX testing of complex digital products. We also write research plans and recruit niche audiences for nearly every project we lead. You’ll benefit from all this experience throughout your project.