You know what your organization needs.
It might be a new program, a new building, or something else. After all, that’s why you’re doing a capital campaign in the first place.
And you feel like you’ve made a good start. You’ve drafted a case for support and have put together what seems to be a solid plan and campaign timetable.
After doing all that, why go to the expense of hiring a consultant to do a feasibility study?
Because you need to be careful. The stakes are high. Nothing looks worse for a nonprofit organization than a capital campaign that falls far short of its goal.
And if you go ahead with your campaign without first doing a feasibility study, that’s exactly the risk you’re taking.
What Questions Will a Good Feasibility Study Answer?
Through a process of one-on-one interviews with major donors, primary staff members, and key volunteers, your campaign consultant will be able to answer all of these questions:
- Is your case for support as clear and effective as it can be?
- How much money will the organization actually be able to raise — is your goal realistic, or does it need to be revised?
- Does the organization have the staff, board, volunteers and more that’s required to run a successful capital campaign?
- What does a realistic timetable look like for this campaign?
- Who will you be able to tap as your campaign’s leaders and donors?
- How do others, particularly potential donors, view the organization?
In addition, the feasibility study may provide specific suggestions to help strengthen an organization’s weak areas, create a more effective case for support, beef up your public image, and do a better job of approaching donors and prospects.
Now, take another look at those six questions above.
Could you — with your current staff and board — answer those questions? Are you close enough to your prospects to be able to determine this key information?
If not, then you NEED a Feasibility Study.
Because you can’t really start your campaign without knowing how your case is received by key donors and just how interested they are — or aren’t.
Why Hire an Outside Consultant to Do Your Campaign Feasibility Study?
The expense isn’t the only reason that some of our coaching clients give for hesitating to hire an outside consultant. The other main concern is the idea of having a stranger come in and learn about your organization’s private business.
The most important reason.
So why is an outside consultant so important?
Because your donors will feel more comfortable talking “off the record” to her about issues that concern them.
Your consultant will present the feasibility results as sets of data, without identifying who said what. This anonymity gives donors permission to be completely honest, not just about why an organization excites them, but also about any concerns that they have.
Two more reasons.
There are two other important reasons to hire an outside consultant to conduct your campaign’s feasibility study:
- To send a loud and clear message that an organization is doing due diligence before going to the expense and labor involved in a capital campaign; AND
- When an outside consultant contacts major donors and volunteers for an interview about an organization, it makes those future donors feel highly valued. And isn’t that exactly how you want them to feel at the start of your campaign?
Getting the Answers You Need
Your feasibility study might tell you that your goal is too low.
You may well hear that the community just can’t wait to shower your capital campaign with money.
Or you may hear that your goal needs to be adjusted downward, or that raising the original goal is going to take longer than you had planned.
These answers won’t necessarily make you happy, but they will help insure the success of your capital campaign.
And in the end, your success is what matters most!
P.S., Even before you hire a consultant, you can effectively prime your organization for a successful campaign with pre-capital campaign coaching. Check it out!
Gail adapted this post from Andrea Kihlstedt’s best-selling book, Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work, 3rd edition. The 4th edition of this capital campaign “Bible” will be out in 2015.