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’m sharing with you today what it’s like to have this important discussion – with someone who is a stranger, no less.
I want to give you the confidence to ask your OWN donors some of these questions. You need to get used to coming right out and asking your donors for their opinions and what they might consider going forward.
The Art of Probing Your Donors
If you’ve never had a conversation like this with a donor or a prospect, it might seem pushy or awkward.
But consider that your donors WANT to tell you what’s on their mind. The majority of them won’t mind at all when you ask specific questions and probe a bit.
After all, you’re being hypothetical, right?
Just remember your manners. Watch your donor carefully to assess her comfort level with this discussion. Be ready to back off if she shows signs of not really wanting to talk about certain topics.
You can always try another tack – ask these questions little by little over time. Drip them out – and PRESTO – you know exactly where your donor stands!
Feasibility Study Questions
Take a look at these questions. This is how campaign consultants come up with their magic report at the end of the interviews. This is where and how we gather the data.
You can – and should – be holding some of these same conversations too!
Attitudes Toward Your Organization
1. Are you familiar with [ORGANIZATION]? What has been your connection with [ORGANIZATION]?
2. In what ways do you think [ORGANIZATION] is an important institution?
3. What three words come to mind that describe [ORGANIZATION]?
4. [ORGANIZATION] has many different types of programs: [example, example, example]. Which programs do you believe are the most important?
Hint – this helps you determine your prospect’s interest areas and hot buttons.
5. How would you characterize [ORGANIZATION’s] reputation in our community?
6. What are [ORGANIZATION’s] strengths?
7. What are [ORGANIZATION’s] weaknesses?
Questions 5, 6, and 7 are invaluable for assessing the organizations PR profile. You need to know what your donors think your strengths and weaknesses are too!
8. Are you familiar with members of the board of directors of [ORGANIZATION]? How would you characterize this board?
9. How would you characterize the fundraising strength of the board?
10. Do you know [ORGANIZATION’s] CEO? How would you describe his reputation in the community?
Case for Support
1. Did you have a chance to read the Vision Statement? Do you feel that it makes a convincing argument for expanding [ORGANIZATION]?
2. Do you personally support the project that is outlined in the Vision Statement?
This question always tells me a lot about where the donor stands!
3. What about the case for support appeals to you most? (What are the elements of the case that strike you as most significant or compelling?)
4. Are there things in the case that you find troublesome?
5. What questions do you have about the proposed project?
These questions about your case are vital. You want to find out if most donors support ALL of your objectives or just SOME of them. And, who supports which part of the proposed campaign project? Essential information for you to know!
1. [ORGANIZATION] will need to raise approximately [$$$] over the next three years, largely from private sources if it’s going expand its facility. Do you think the proposed goal is attainable?
2. Do you think our community would respond positively to a campaign?
I always love asking this question. It gives me a sense of how the donor herself will respond!
3. We have developed a table of gifts that shows the number and level of gifts required for a successful campaign to raise [$$$] million. With this chart in mind, do you think that [$$$] is a feasible goal?
You need to be prepared to place your gift chart smack on the table in front of your prospect. Let the gift chart sink in before you ask these questions.
4. A campaign like this will require 15 gifts of [$$] or more. Do you believe that these gifts would be available for [ORGANIZATION]?
5. Do you believe that the next year would be a good time for a campaign?
Campaign Leadership and Donors
1. Who do you believe will be key to the success of the fundraising campaign? Why?
2. Are there other members of the [XYZ] community whose involvement would be particularly important to the success of a campaign for [ORGANIZATION]?
3. From which individuals, corporations or foundations do you believe the top gifts might come?
Question #3 is an important part of sleuthing and pre-campaign reconnaissance. It’s so important to hear from others who you should be cultivating for lead campaign gifts.
Willingness to Give and Participate
1. Among your philanthropic interests, how would you rank [ORGANIZATION]?
2. Would you consider making a gift to a campaign for [ORGANIZATION]?
This is, of course, THE important question. Would they consider a gift and how much MIGHT they consider when the time comes. This is a question that consultants can often ask more easily to staff.
3. Would you be wiling to share in what range you might consider a gift to the campaign?
4. Do you think that you’d be willing to also make an annual gift to [ORGANIZATION] over and above your campaign gift?
5. Would you be willing to help with the campaign? In what capacity?
6. If asked to serve in a leadership role in the campaign, would you be inclined to say “yes?”
7. Could you suggest other people who might want to help with this campaign?
8. Do you have any other comments or suggestions you would like me to pass on?
The Bottom Line
These questions aren’t so mysterious, are they?
Float some of them out in front of your donors and I promise you’ll be happy you did!Dispell the mystery around feasibility study questions. #nfp Click To Tweet
A New Way
Not sure you want to hire a consultant to do an expensive feasibility study? Take a look at this new approach to asking your donors these questions.