When it comes to a capital campaign feasibility study, some people think it is an essential tool, and others think they are unnecessary, as “we know our donors and members, who will give and what will motivate them.”. Needless to say, we fall into the former category. This week, I will focus on the role of the feasibility study in a capital campaign and why it is worth the investment.
Seven benefits of hiring a consultant to perform a feasibility study:
- Creating the case for the project. Each capital campaign feasibility study interview consists, in part, of the interviewee reading a case for the capital campaign. While the project can, and often does, change as a result of the feedback obtained from the interviews conducted during the feasibility study, the case is often the first time that most organizations articulate in writing exactly what they have in mind. That process helps board members and staff focus on the scope of the capital campaign, how much the project will cost and how the funds will be raised.
- List Prospective Donors. Capital campaign feasibility studies interview diverse stakeholders from different demographic and degrees of involvement. But, almost all of the potential interviews should be with people who can give or influence a major gift to the campaign. While this may seem skewed, and we all know people with different income levels play a large role in nonprofits, a capital campaign is about raising large sums of money. And those large sums will only come from major donors.
- Engage Prospective Donors. Cultivating and stewarding donors should be a year-round practice for your nonprofit and a feasibility study is a great “touch.” You are engaging prospective donors early enough in a project that their opinion has a real impact. Following the adage, “Ask someone for money and you will get advice, ask someone for advice and you will get money” can have a positive impact on the results.
- Find Volunteer Leadership During each interview, there comes a time during which the questions shift towards the interviewee’s personal interest in the project. Will they give to support this idea? How much would they consider at this time? Would they be willing to help work on the campaign? A strong case for a beloved nonprofit is enough to excite people to join the volunteer leadership and help make this vision a reality.
- Learn how current and past donors think about the organization and its leadership. Candor, whether you like what is heard or not, will help those involved understand how the community views the nonprofit. Does everyone love the executive director but avoids the board president? Is the community unused to donating large sums and so it is perceived as an oversized goal? Is the organization perceived as too disorganized to pull off a campaign? You might not like what you hear, but you will go into the capital campaign with your eyes wide open.
- Predict fundraising. This is, of course, a major objective of the capital campaign feasibility study. Will your community support this endeavor? Do they believe you have the volunteers and staff to lead the way? Will they put their money where their mouth is?
- Consultants understand how the organization works. There are at least three reasons to use consultants to perform a feasibility study.
- Few organizations understand the intricacies of a survey and how to analyze the results.
- You will get a much more honest response if the interviewees are extended the opportunity to engage confidentially with someone who will not take anything personally, report it back to their mutual friend, or have to be seen at the next board meeting.
- The consultant learns about the organization which helps immeasurably when it comes to consulting on the capital campaign.
During the feasibility study, we can assess the volunteers and staff for their strengths and weaknesses. It helps us understand who has what responsibilities, and who might need training or additional staffing. Each organization is unique, and the study allows our suggestions and implementation strategies for the capital campaign to be appropriately tailored. And, as the campaign is under way and donors are discussed, there is a way to share knowledge, without breaking the confidentiality of a feasibility study interview, with the development committee. And inside information, can help raise more money.
If you would like to learn more about a capital campaign feasibility study for your nonprofit, please click here to email me.
Read the rest of the series:
Volume 1: The Overview
Volume 2: Defining your Dream
Volume 3: How to Determine Capital Campaign Goals
Volume 6: Feasibility Study Results