The Value of Qualitative Research In Amplifying a Great Cause

Published On: November 9, 2023By

When I first met Lauri Pastrone, Founder and CEO of Peace by Piece International, her passion for her organization stood out immediately. This is someone who could clearly articulate the purpose-driven work her organization does, transforming the corporate gifting category by connecting companies with makers from underserved communities. Lauri will tell you the staggering statistics right away – “It’s a 250 billion dollar industry! Imagine if companies would commit some of the billions of dollars they spend on gifts every year to being socially impactful.” I could only imagine!

Inspired by Pastrone’s passion and mission, I suggested she and her team apply for KNow’s annual Pro Bono project. Peace by Piece came to us wanting to articulate to prospective customers how a high-quality gift with a story makes a recipient feel and how it can influence their perception of their employer. At the outset of the project, Peace by Piece hadn’t done any research, and Pastrone admits to wondering how strictly qualitative insights would benefit their organization. Connecting at the end of the project, she says now:

“I don’t know what we would have done with quantitative research, but with qualitative research, I feel like we’ve got meat on the bones here to be able to really think through and action the responses.”

So, how did intelligently designed qualitative research deliver these “meaty” insights? We took a multi-phased and mixed methodology approach, conducting virtual interviews, an interim workshop, a Digital Pop Up Booth® and an In-Person Pop-Up Booth®. Through these research stages, the KNow team was able to gather powerful participant testimonials that confirmed that Peace by Piece’s mission is one people will get behind. More than that, we were able to uncover unexpected insights that can enable Peace by Piece to amplify that mission.

Hearing from Multiple Audiences

It was important to learn the perspective of two key audiences to understand both sides of the corporate gifting experience. So, before we spoke to corporate gift recipients to understand how they would feel about socially conscious gifts, we conducted interviews with gift purchasers. What barriers did they face when choosing gifting options for their employees? What were their priorities? Through longer, in-depth conversations in this first phase, we gathered insights on how an organization like Peace by Piece could best fit a corporate gift purchasers’ needs. Speaking to distinct audiences allowed us to provide a more well-rounded presentation of opportunities for the organization that goes well-beyond positive recipient testimonials.

Checking in Between Research Phases

Between audiences, we conducted an interim workshop to continue refining our endeavor with the Peace by Piece team. Staying committed to delivering on the initial research objectives, we made room to expand for any new “a-ha” learnings from the purchaser interviews that could broaden or shift the objectives for the remaining phases of research. This collaborative hybrid in-person / digital workshop not only allowed us to reconfirm objectives, it got us excited for the remaining Pop-Up Booth® phases! I’d been bragging about having met members of the wonderful Peace by Piece team, so the workshop had the added benefit of bringing more members of each team together and strengthening the collaboration.

Uncovering Unexpected Insights  

The research did provide powerful testimonials that showcased that employees would love to receive a socially conscious gift that benefits the maker or the global community and it would improve their perception of their employer. But with qualitative conversations, we were able to uncover more. We heard what kind of gifts people like to receive, and what gifts employers should avoid (hint: don’t give stress balls or pens anymore). We got immediately actionable feedback on the Peace by Piece website and how they can better communicate their unique gift offerings. Importantly, we learned that there is immense opportunity for Peace by Piece to grow by strategically amplifying their mission.

A Peace by Piece “Story Card” that comes with each gift


Our research may have provided meat on the bones, but the heart of Peace by Piece was always there. The organization’s work dramatically improves lives in the communities they serve, and our participants shared how impactful it could be to receive a gift made by a talented individual in one of these communities. Our hope is that qualitative insights help the passion-filled, mission-driven Peace by Piece team grow and continue changing lives in the process.