You Must Do These 5 Things Before Your Feasibility Study
Perhaps you’re about to outgrow your building. Or the landlord’s not going to renew the lease, and it’s time to own your own facility.
Or maybe you’re thinking about a new, exciting program for your organization that’ll springboard your organization’s services to a new level of excellence.
Does your organization have a big anniversary coming up? Ten years, 20 years or even more? And you think that might be a good time to launch a campaign.
Or maybe your fundraising’s been stagnant, and you’d like to use a campaign to jumpstart your major gift program.
All of these are great reasons to think about a campaign. And if your organization hasn’t conducted a campaign in the last 10 years, it’s high time you get going now.
But before you do, here are some things you’ll want to know.
Don’t Get a Campaign Consultant Just Yet
You may think that the first order of business is to figure out how much money you can raise by hiring a consultant to do a feasibility study. And of course, many consultants will be happy to have you think just that.
But stop right there. If you want to increase the chances that your feasibility study will result in the recommendations you want—namely, that you are ready to raise lots of money—you’ve got some work to do before you even think about hiring a consultant.
Test a Specific Plan With Your Feasibility Study
You’ve got lots to do before you hire a consultant to do a feasibility study.
Because feasibility studies don’t tell you how much money your organization can raise in general.
A feasibility study tests how much money you can raise for a specific project or set of objectives. And you won’t want a consultant out talking to your donors until you’ve developed clear plans and you’ve have engaged your most important prospective donors around those plans.
You Must Do These 5 Things Before You Hire a Consultant
- Determine your preliminary campaign objectives: Clarify all of the things your campaign will raise money for. Which of these will your campaign include: building fund, building maintenance costs, fundraising expenses, additional staff, endowment, operating funds?
- Engage your board in getting ready for a campaign: Is your board ready for a campaign? Have they been engaged in figuring out your plans and exploring the opportunities? Do they know what’ll be involved?
- Develop a preliminary campaign fundraising goal: Attach dollar estimates to your campaign goal, so that you can see practically how many gifts of what size you’ll need to be successful.
- Write a draft case for supporting the campaign: Write a compelling case for supporting your campaign. There’s nothing like writing to help you become clear about your plan. It may take you five, 10 or even 30 drafts before you’ve captured the essence of what’s important, but this process is critical for your success.
- Engage your most important donors: There’s no more effective way to pave the way to a large gift than to engage someone in your organization’s planning. You won’t want to wait until the feasibility study to do that. Ask their advice as you get ready.
Here’s What’s Next For Your Capital Campaign
After you take these five steps, it’s time to hire a consultant to do a feasibility study.
Be part of an important conversation.
You can easily spend $40,000, $50,000 or even more on a feasibility study—and that’s before you raise a penny for your campaign. There are solid pros and cons to this process, and I think it’s time for a honest-to-goodness, lively discussion about the subject.
On Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 3 p.m. ET, I’ll be having that conversation in a new webinar discussion with Tim Winkler of The Winkler Group, a capital campaign consulting firm, with offices in Atlanta, Charleston and Orlando.
Not only will Tim debate the topic with me, but he’s invited a donor who will give us a different perspective.
You’re invited to join us. In fact, I’d love it if you did. Register now to take part in this important conversation.
Andrea Kihlstedt is an innovative leader and expert in capital campaign fundraising. She wrote "Capital Campaigns: Strategies That Work (4th ed)," often referred to as the “bible” of capital campaign fundraising. She founded Capital Campaign Masters and co-founded Capital Campaign Toolkit, an online capital campaign resource and platform.