Nonprofit Development Assessment and Feasibility Study

Examining Your Nonprofit with a Magnifying GlassHave you considered conducting a nonprofit development assessment or a feasibility study?  These essential in-depth examinations can be incredibly valuable to a nonprofit.  Why would you consider conducting a wellness snapshot of this magnitude?

You might consider one of these efforts if you are interested in:

  • Improving overall efficacy;
  • Increasing income;
  • Understanding your current resources;
  • Knowing how to access those resources;
  • Initiating a capital campaign;
  • Ensuring sufficient staff; and/or
  • Strengthening the impression you give to prospective and current donors.

And as a bonus, the appraisals, and the results, are an ideal way to show the world that you are a strong organization worth funding as well as volunteering time and talent.  An agency that knows where they are, where they want to head, and what they need to do to accomplish their goals is more than half way home.

Full disclosure: both nonprofit development assessments and feasibility studies benefit from the use of a consultant.  This is because it is hard to see yourself and your colleagues in an objective manor.  It can be too rosy a view or too harsh a perspective, but either way that bias will be reflected in the results. Then, how can you be sure that you are heading down the best path for the organization to follow and not down the road that one individual unconsciously thinks the organization should head?

Nonprofit Development Assessment vs. Feasibility Study

Which one do you need?  In many ways, these two overlap in their focus.

A development audit is primarily conducted among the nonprofit’s current staff, board and donors and funders.  As it says, it focuses on the development function –staff, systems, volunteers, methodology, fundraising efforts, diversification of funding sources and an overall picture of where you are as well as where you could/should be.  An audit should be conducted every few years, at regular intervals, when there is a major staff transition, or any other occasion that indicates the assessment is not only worth the time and energy required, but also the opportunity to interpret and appreciate the results.

A Feasibility Study consists of an agreed upon number of interviews (and, possibly, focus groups) conducted among those inside and outside the organization.  Current givers, prospective major donors, people who love you and people who no longer care to do business with you are all engaged in enough conversation to get data along with anecdotal thoughts that help express the general feeling surrounding the agency.    Generally, a feasibility study is conducted when a nonprofit is considering a capital or endowment campaign—a fundraising endeavor outside the scope of a regular annual fund effort for unrestricted operating revenue.  Is the money in the community available to this nonprofit? Will the donors be excited about a new building/endowment/additional programs?  Taking the guesswork out of campaign of this nature gives confidence that a plan can and should move forward.

If you are questioning whether you should be conducting a feasibility study or development audit consider emailing me today at