Before you conduct primary research, make sure you are aware of what data already exists that can help you in your cause in the form of secondary information. Librarians may not look like dangerous people, but they are because they are dangerously savvy about where to look for the information that could burst the bubble of your bright, but mistaken ideas, or debunk the pet theory you have been nursing.
On the other hand, they might lead you right to the source information that opens up your mind to a new idea that becomes a tremendous advantage for your organization. Market research can help you test your ideas before you sink your time, energy, and money into taking a new direction. A librarian is a good person to have on your marketing team.
There is a gold mine of information available to help your nonprofit if you are prepared to do a little digging at the library. Government census data and reports, economic data, productivity statistics, information from news and trade associations are sitting on the stacks waiting for you right now at the branch library. University libraries often have sociological studies, scientific journals, and host forums that could inform you about topics of interest to your nonprofit’s cause.
Your librarian can help you devise a strategy for harvesting the kind of data you need. Go to your local library, you don’t have to head downtown to get what you need. Even the smallest library has access to enough information to keep your nonprofit in-the-know with reference materials, books, periodicals, and databases.
BTW: This is a good search tool you might find handy http://www.worldcat.org/ it will tell you where to find the nearest copy of any library book you want.