Fundraising

Low-Cost Fundraising Feasibility Studies

Raising money is important to a clubs survival, and while industry wisdom holds that third-party campaign feasibility studies are best, non-profits can save money by doing the work of expensive capital campaign consultants.

A few decades ago, a campaign feasibility study was performed to figure out who in the community had the resources to contribute to a campaign and how much those individuals and businesses would actually be willing to give. Today, a feasibility study is in practice a planning exercise and tool for recruiting supporters.

Pros and Cons of Conducting Own Campaign Feasibility Study

Traditionally, non-profit organizations considering a capital or endowment fundraising campaign hire a consultant to assess the likelihood of a campaign’s success before launching the campaign.

Ideally, this assessment – the feasibility study – is undertaken by an independent consultant without ties to the organization. The main reason for this is to encourage candid and complete responses to tough questions about how interviewees view the non-profit. Competent consultants also bring the benefit of their experience and perspective on the philanthropic landscape of particular communities.

On the other hand, organizations without funds to hire feasibility study consultants often discover a tremendous opportunity to build relationships with interviewees and cultivate prospective donors to the campaign.

How to Conduct a Campaign or Endowment Feasibility Study

Determine who to interview. An important first step is to determine the gift table for the size of the campaign the organization plans to undertake. (Blackbaud has a free and easy tool they call the Gift Range Calculator that allows an organization to simply input the campaign goal amount to see how many gifts at a certain level will be needed and how many prospects should be targeted.) An organization should interview no less than the number of prospects required to raise 25% of the overall campaign goal.

In addition to its major donors (current and former), potential interviewees may include board members (current and former), major donors to other organizations, community leaders and business leaders. Make a list of these potential interviewees and then rank them as must, should or could be interviewed.

Send potential interviewees an introductory letter or email. If the study is being conducted by a board member or executive director, it is appropriate for the letter to come from that person. The letter should come from the board chair if the interviewer is not a board member or the executive director. The letter should minimally ask for the participation of the recipient, explain why the study is being undertaken and ensure the confidentiality of the interview. It is also wise to tell the recipient how the interviewer will follow-up to schedule an appointment.

Conduct one-on-one interviews, preferably in person, using an interview questionnaire (see below).

Compile the results into a report that makes recommendations to senior staff and board members. The report should include a recommended campaign goal (since it may have changed based on interviews), how the campaign should be led and staffed, and the timeline for the campaign, the campaign budget, and public relations considerations.

Fundraising Feasibility Study Interview Questionnaire

This questionnaire will be a starting point for discussions with interviewees and should ask the interviewee:

How familiar he is with organization

  • What the organization’s strengths and weaknesses are
  • Whether the interviewee believes this fundraising campaign would be a priority for the community
  • What challenges he sees for the success of the campaign
  • What kind of leadership the campaign needs
  • Who he knows who fits that description
  • Who he knows who might be able to contribute a major gift
  • How he would recommend approaching those people
  • Whether he would be willing to take a leadership role as a volunteer and/or donor

 

Considering the significant resources required to execute a capital or endowment campaign, it is rarely advisable for organizations to proceed without a formal feasibility study. Organizations conducting studies on their own should embrace the opportunity to listen to their stakeholders and build important relationships.

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