Six Tips for Identifying and Evaluating Capital-campaign Prospects
In her session on capital campaigns at the AFP International Conference on Fundraising in Atlanta in April, Lona Farr talked about the how, what, when and why of feasibility studies.
Farr, owner of fundraising consulting firm Farr Healey Consulting, listed the following reasons why organizations should do a feasibility study before embarking on a capital campaign:
* To set rational financial goals. The feasibility study determines an organization’s fundraising potential, helps it make a rational financial goal, and determines the number and size of the gifts needed to reach that goal.
* To identify potential volunteer leaders with powerful peer relationships.
* The prepare the internal and external resources needed to reach the goal — providing adequate staffing and preparing for public relations/communications needs, for example.
* To raise awareness by volunteer leaders and major donors about the organization, making them more familiar with the its programs and goals.
* To gain insight into how the community perceives the organization.
* To identify potential major donors.
* To provide a preliminary campaign calendar and recommendations for how to proceed.
A feasibility study can take two to four months. Key elements include creating a case for support, forming a planning committee, prospect identification and evaluation, and the selection of interviewees. Farr recommended the following tips for prospect identification and evaluation:
* Construct a table of gifts chart that shows how many gifts at each dollar amount are needed to reach the goal.
* Prepare a list of 300 to 500 prospects.
* While most of your prospects will be donors, a capital campaign is a good time to seek out other individuals, foundations or corporations that might be interested in the project and your mission.
* Have a planning committee, made up of volunteers and staff, rate prospects based on their affluence and influence.
* Using the prospect-rating information, fill out what Farr called “Internal Planning Study” forms, which list board members and donors, their giving history, and the amount the organization estimates they can give during the capital campaign.
* Based on the prospect ratings, come up with a list of the top 100 people of affluence and influence among your constituents. From the list of 100, the planning committee should pick 50 to 65 “must interview” prospects, in priority order.
Lona Farr can be reached via www.farrhealey.com.