May 15, 2017

Five Reasons For Conducting A Feasibility Study

Before embarking on a significant fundraising campaign, especially if it is your organization’s first one or first in a long time, one of the best places to start is by conducting a feasibility study.

A feasibility study will focus on internal readiness to an extent, but the “bread and butter” are interviews with external constituents. Those external constituents can be current donors, prospective donors, or individuals of renown in the community who have not previously been engaged with the organization.

Here is what a feasibility study can do for you:

  1. Sound out your supporters and potential donors: does your “pitch” make sense? What resonates with them? What does not resonate? Are the arguments you present convincing? What questions do they have? Are there any objections? Is the campaign goal and the campaign timeline seen as realistic? Before you invite specific individuals for a feasibility study interview, make it clear that you will not ask them for a gift during that meeting. All you want is their honest and unvarnished opinion.
  2. Refine your campaign collateral and volunteer training materials. By sounding out your case for support and discovering potential questions and objections, you will be able to better target your marketing and training materials to “real world” donor interactions.
  3. By sounding out your current and potential supporters, you may find out who would actually be open to making a contribution. Again, do not ask for a gift this time. By conducting these interviews, you may however get a sense how easy or challenging it could be to fill-in your campaign gift chart.
  4. Identify potential volunteer fundraisers. The majority of capital campaigns depend heavily on a large number of volunteer solicitors. During these feasibility study interviews, you may find out who is really passionate about the project and would be willing to support you beyond making their own gift.
  5. Identify other potential prospects. One of the best questions to ask is “How else do you recommend we should talk to about this project?” This can help you expand beyond your typical network of donors and supporters, and will be crucial for any first-time capital campaigns.

For a feasibility study to be as useful as possible, it is important that the individuals you meet with and interview can feel free to speak freely and somewhat confidentially. It is often very helpful to engage a third party (for example a fundraising consultant) to conduct these interviews.

A donor may think too highly of the organization’s leadership to speak freely. They may hold back on some of their objections out of respect for the Executive Director or members of the board, or because they do not want to hurt any feelings. By meeting with a neutral party, it can be easier do bring certain concerns to light. This is important for the campaign, because volunteer fundraisers needs to be well-prepared and well-trained. If there are any key objections, they need to be known and addressed before the campaign can go under way.

About Marc Huber

Marc Huber is a fundraising professional with over seventeen years of experience, including strategic messaging, board development, annual giving, capital campaigns, and volunteer consultation and training. He's also the author of The Fundraising Co-Pilot.

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