The Capital Campaign Feasibility Study: Always A Good Idea
Is your nonprofit considering a capital campaign in the next two to three years? That is, will you be purchasing a building, renovating a building, acquiring land or purchasing large pieces of equipment? If so, you must do a feasibility study before you decide to launch the campaign.
Prospective donors are flattered to be interviewed for feasibility studies, and the right interviewer asking the right questions will subtly encourage the prospect to begin thinking about her or his gift.
Why bother with a feasibility study? Why not simply announce the campaign, raise all the money you can and the devil take the hindmost? There are five critically important reasons to conduct a feasibility study:
How do you conduct such a study? Most nonprofits hire outside consultants to conduct feasibility studies. Consultants are viewed by all parties as disinterested participants, and interviewees are thus more likely to be candid with them than they might be with a nonprofit's board or staff members.
The consultant meets initially with top administrative staff and the chair of the board to discuss the organization's history and the particulars of the proposed campaign. The consultant then reviews the client's promotional and fundraising material, including grant proposals, annual reports, special event programs and so on.
The consultant next drafts the questions to be asked at the interviews. The draft is circulated among the client's staff, Board and other volunteers for their input. The consultant then prepares the final version of the interview questions.
Most consultants interview betweeen 35 and 40 individuals selected by the client. This normally includes board members, staff members, past donors, other major gift prospects and other volunteers. The interviews determine participants' levels of familiarity with the organization and its programs, their willingness to give (and at what dollar levels), and their willingness to serve as solicitors for the campaign.
Understand finally that the completed feasibility study will recommend one of three courses of action:
Yes, the consultant may occasionally be the bearer of bad news, but this is infinitely better than launching a capital campaign and falling flat on your pretty face! It also sets the stage for a campaign by creating enthusiasm and commitment on the part of those donors who did agree to give; they can then motivate others!
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