Pointing the Way
Many organizations understand a feasibility study in terms of the campaign goal. “How much can we raise?” they ask. “How long will it take?”
While a good study will answer these questions, it also can answer a host of others and serve as a catalyst for development success on all fronts. The key to maximizing your feasibility study is asking the right questions.
A comprehensive feasibility study has several components: interviews with key staff members, interviews with the organization’s key constituents, and an internal development assessment. From these elements, the study can provide incisive recommendations, both strategic and specific, on your organization’s case for support, volunteer leadership, potential for support, and internal systems and structure.
Establish a case for support
A strong case for support is fundamental to a successful campaign, and the feasibility study is an excellent opportunity to test and refine the case. In terms of the case for support, your feasibility study should address the following questions:
- How do constituents perceive the mission of our organization? How can we achieve consensus on our mission?
- How do constituents perceive our organization’s strengths and challenges? How should we capitalize on our strengths and address the challenges?
- Does our case for support resonate with our constituents? What do they find exciting? What not?
- What are the best vehicles for communicating the case to current and new constituents during this campaign?
Knowing how constituents perceive an organization’s mission is an invaluable piece of information for every organization. As counsel, when we ask, “What is the organization’s mission?” we want to know why the organization exists and how it works. It’s not uncommon for responses to focus on the “how” and leave off the “why” altogether.
For example, when we asked prospective donors of one organization to describe its mission, one person said “land acquisition” and another “preserving animal habitats.” How: 2; Why: 0.