I don’t do feasibility studies! Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, you’ll be more comfortable reading the articles below and knowing that I’m not trying to sell you anything!
Why have I rounded up these pieces?
Because I know that if your board is thinking about a capital campaign, one of the first things you’ll think about is hiring a consultant to do a feasibility study. And while that’s sometimes the right solution, it’s not always.
The articles in this group are a collection of pieces I’ve written over the past few years. They look at feasibility studies this way and that. Some have a strong point of view one way, but you’ll find others that question some commonly held beliefs.
WARNING: You may come away from this post with more questions. But you’ll also have a clearer sense of the many issues you should consider before deciding to hire an expensive consultant to tell you what to do — and that’s important. So do read on!
Why do a feasibility study if you know good and darn well that you’re going to launch a capital campaign?
Turns out there are two kinds of capital campaign studies — Planning Studies and Feasibility Studies. Read this article to learn the difference between them, and to discover which one you need.
Perhaps you’re about to outgrow your building? Or the landlord’s not going to renew the lease and it’s time to own your own facility. Or maybe you’re thinking about a new, exciting program for your organization that’ll springboard your organization’s services to a new level of excellence.
All of these are great reasons to think about a campaign. And if your organization hasn’t conducted a campaign in the last ten years, it’s high time you get going NOW. But before you do, here are some things you’ll want to know…
Let’s dispel the mystery about what happens during a feasibility study. I want to shine some light on this mysterious conversation that happens between your consultant and your prospective donor. Have you ever wondered exactly how this discussion works?
As a veteran of countless feasibility studies, I share what it’s like to have this important discussion — with someone who is a stranger, no less.
Imagine yourself as a board member of a successful organization in your city — a city where you have had a long, successful career. You’re a good board member, and you want to be constructive and helpful in every way you can. But the leadership of your organization is proposing a large capital campaign, and you’re not sure if it’s possible to raise the amount of money required.
You don’t want to be a naysayer, but you also don’t want to risk your reputation on a failing effort. How can you know the chances of success? That’s where a feasibility study comes in. Here’s what I mean…
Despite years of success, a failed fundraising campaign can become a black mark on the organization’s image and undermine donor and community confidence in the organization for years to come. Interestingly, this failure rarely has a negative impact on board members who go on to serve on other boards with no lasting consequences.
To avoid these problems, Boards of Directors and CEOs should give careful consideration to the planning of a capital campaign and take time to gauge donor and community interest. Here’s how:
Imagine this … your organization is planning a capital campaign to raise $4.5 million for a new building that’ll more than double the number of people you are able to serve. This will be your first capital campaign. Your board members have little campaign experience and you are all appropriately anxious.
A feasibility study seems wise. You do your homework, and pick a good consultant, but when the consultant’s proposal comes in with a $40,000 price tag for a 35-interview study, your board balks! One of them suggests you do your own study. This article shares the pro’s and con’s of doing your own feasibility study.
Recently, I’ve had several conversations with donors — the kinds of donors who give big gifts to capital campaigns — about their dislike of feasibility study interviews.
The rationale for traditional feasibility studies is that they offer a way for donors to tell an independent third party things that they would hesitate to tell the leader of an organization directly.
It’s sometimes hard to voice criticisms or concerns to someone in the community with whom the donor will have an ongoing relationship. A consultant opens the door to what might be a more frank discussion of the organization. However, I’ve come up with an alternative model and you’ll learn all about it in this article…
You may have heard of Jerold Panas. He wrote the bestselling book on asking in the entire fundraising world. Why am I talking about Jerry Panas? Because Jerry is talking about me — he wrote an article in reference to an article of mine about feasibility studies.
My original article posted on Guidestar, Feasibility Studies: An Unnecessary Expense Designed to Make Consultants Rich, or an Important Part of Your Next Fundraising Campaign? questions the validity of feasibility studies. Do you need one? And if you do, is the standard model really the best?
Jerry’s article does exactly what I hoped for. To have a dialogue about this important topic. I’d love for you to join in too…
I’m hoping that all of these articles open your eyes to an honest to goodness, lively discussion about the subject that I’m having with Tim Winkler of The Winkler Group, a capital campaign consulting firm. Not only will Tim debate the topic with me, but he’s invited a donor who will give us a different perspective.
This free webinar is on January 24th, 2018 at 3PM ET.
You won’t want to miss this full, complementary discussion on feasibility studies.