Custom Studies

Not For Profit Research –
Raising Money and Taking Mental Health Out of the Dark Ages


Blame the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and a host of other Hollywood flicks. Mental health has always been shackled with the all-too-familiar imagery of the past – electric shock therapy, lobotomies, people locked away in institutions …and attics.

Our client – a mental health sciences centre - was determined to try to change all that, beginning with its own image. Two issues, however, needed to be addressed. First, what were Ontarians' attitudes towards mental health really all about? Second, what could our client say about themselves and their programs that would most interest Ontarians in supporting them?

The Solution

A study of 2000 Ontarians was conducted on-line to answer these questions. First, we discovered that a genuine culture divide existed in Ontario on the subject of mental health. Half of Ontarians were quite sympathetic to the whole idea and half felt -- deep down -- that sufferers really only had themselves to blame. So, half were attaching a 'stigma' to mental health problems that the other half saw as a thing of the past. (Interestingly, the half who were sympathetic were acutely aware of the large group who were not). The sympathetic group was truly interested in educating Ontarians about mental health in general and in moving its cause forward.

What We Found

We discovered many things. First we discovered that our client could communicate certain messages to its donors but needed to steer well clear of others. As well, many Ontarians turned out to be believers in the cause. But this wasn't going to be enough. Donors also needed to believe in the organization they were about to donate to! Increased visibility was, therefore, a must. One other huge opportunity: Ontarians told us they simply weren't being asked to donate to mental health organizations, not in the manner, at least, of other charities. So, mental health fundraising in Ontario was still, perhaps, in its infancy.

These results suggested real opportunity in the future, if our client and other mental health organizations were able to find ways to invest more aggressively in their fundraising programs. The interest was there, but the cause just wasn't receiving the attention it deserved, a point Ontarians made very clear with us.

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