15 Crucial Fundraising Feasibility Study Questions to Ask
There’s nothing worse for a nonprofit organization than realizing the fundraising campaign you’ve already kicked off is out of your reach.
For this reason, most nonprofits conduct fundraising feasibility studies before they launch large-scale fundraising campaigns.
Fundraising feasibility studies are targeted efforts conducted by nonprofit consultants to help organizations determine their preparedness to take on an important large-scale fundraising campaign.
These studies assess whether or not fundraising campaign goals are attainable, whether organizations have the support necessary to achieve their goals, and what steps nonprofits need to take to get ready for the campaign they envision.
For many organizations, feasibility studies are considered a necessary step in preparing for important fundraising campaigns, but they aren’t always utilized to their fullest.
To truly get the most out of your institution’s next fundraising feasibility study, your team should start considering it a key aspect of campaign planning and an opportunity to strengthen relationships you’ll lean on during the campaign.
With Averill, fundraising feasibility studies are seen as an opportunity to catapult your organization into the future by making your team more efficient and setting the stage for fundraising success. This level of planning is essential whether you’re looking to fund a major project with a capital campaign or boost your capacity with a new annual fund campaign.
To get your nonprofit where it needs to be, Averill’s consultants will work with your team by guiding the conversation with a set of core questions. Take a look at some of these key topics we’ll answer with your team before your next campaign kicks off, including:
- 1. What are your internal expectations for the upcoming fundraising campaign?
- 2. Does your nonprofit have the support it needs to be successful?
- 3. How can your nonprofit prepare for the fundraising campaign you envision?
1. What are your internal expectations for the upcoming fundraising campaign?
One of the biggest factors in the success of fundraising campaigns is aligning expectations behind the scenes. If there are disconnects between your nonprofit’s executives, your board, and your staff members, it will almost certainly spell fundraising failure down the road.
When consultants conduct feasibility studies, some of the most important information they look to glean is how prepared your team is internally to do what it takes to take on the campaign you’re planning for.
Your consultant will likely ask questions to assess your fundraising expectations as well as the strength of your internal support structures. Take a look at these questions your nonprofit should answer during your fundraising feasibility study.
To consider your campaign a success, your team will need to be aligned in understanding basic fundraising expectations. If your executives, staff, or board have different ideas of what the campaign is attempting to achieve, it’s more than likely you’ll fail to get to the finish line.
Interview important internal players to assess their understanding of some of the following questions:
- What are you trying to fund? This doesn’t mean how much you’re trying to raise, but rather the objectives of your organization once you reach this goal. This should be obvious from day one, but many organizations misstep by fundraising without a clear project or goal in mind. Even more challenging? When team members have conflicting ideas of how to spend the money.
- What is your desired monetary goal? Your campaign’s fundraising goal should be set by your ability to raise the sum, not by the project you wish to fund. Your team needs to be clear on this distinction! During your fundraising feasibility study, sit down with your different key internal members and discuss what they feel is a reasonable goal, or their opinion of the goal your nonprofit has tentatively set.
- What is your desired campaign timeline? What’s even worse than a campaign that doesn’t reach its fundraising goal? A campaign that seemingly goes on forever. Some campaigns, like capital campaigns, will need to take years to secure the right gifts. However, your internal players need to appreciate the timeline expectations of the campaign. Are they in it for the long haul?
Internal support structures
To make your nonprofit’s fundraising goals a reality, you’ll need to know that you have the support structure in place to see the campaign through from beginning to end. Your internal players should understand what’s expected of them during this campaign and your nonprofit should be aware of their attitudes toward their role in the fundraising project.
Keep in mind some of these important questions to ask:
- Are board members and key staff ready to be ambassadors? Contributors want to give to nonprofits they have relationships with and the higher your campaign’s fundraising goal, the more you’ll need to make connections with these important individuals. Your executive leaders (CEO, executive director, etc.) and your board members should be ready to serve as ambassadors for your campaign in this capacity.
- Do you have enough staff allocated for the campaign? Your team may find that there aren’t enough staff members available to handle the campaign. Depending on your fundraising expectations, you may need to dedicate certain staff to the project full time. To prepare for the campaign, do you need to hire new staff? If you already have the personnel, are they ready to play their role in the campaign?
Takeaway: Your nonprofit’s fundraising feasibility study shouldn’t simply be about assessing the attainability of your fundraising goal, but should also center around determining how prepared and enthusiastic your team is to take on this challenge.
2. Does your nonprofit have the support it needs to be successful?
Outside of the internal structure of your organization, so much of the success of your fundraising campaign will depend upon how much external support the campaign has.
This refers to the support of your campaign’s contributors, the community which you serve, and any external partners such as corporations who are excited to help your nonprofit reach its fundraising goal.
One of the most traditional functions of a feasibility study is to assess public attitudes toward your nonprofit and the proposed campaign plan.
However, if your organization wants to get more out of your fundraising feasibility study, this process should be taken as an opportunity to strengthen your relationships with the individuals you’ll depend on after the campaign launches.
Be sure to interview important internal players such as your staff and executives, but also focus on key external supporters ranging from gift contributors to important community members.
People love being insiders, and the more they feel like they’re a part of planning your fundraising campaign, the more likely it is they’ll stay motivated as supporters down the line.
Take a look at some of these questions to ask during your fundraising feasibility study to help your nonprofit identify valuable individuals to lean on as supporters, as well as determine what to expect of them during your campaign.
- Which individuals would make valuable interviewees? Interview key individuals who contribute to the success of your nonprofit, including your board, past contributors, prospects for the proposed campaign, volunteers, and individuals who benefit from your nonprofit’s actions. By interviewing a diverse array of individuals, you’ll be able to piece together a well-rounded image of your support structure.
- Do you have enough interview candidates? Be sure that your nonprofit identifies enough individuals for your feasibility study’s interview phase. Your team should select multiple subjects occupying similar roles. For example, select multiple major donors, multiple board members, multiple staff members, etc. This way, your findings will be a broad sample of your community of support.
Key interview questions
- What is their perception of the organization? One of the biggest factors in your fundraising campaign’s success is the perception of your organization. Do important individuals outside of your nonprofit have doubts of your ability to reach your goal, or have a negative attitude toward how you utilize fundraising dollars in the long run?
- How will they be involved? To be successful, your campaign won’t just need reliable gift contributors. Are members of your support structure clear on what role they’ll play in the campaign? Have you provided them with the tools they need to succeed in these roles? Has your team thought through what you’ll need from these insiders?
- Are they excited for the campaign? Your nonprofit doesn’t simply need supporters to think that your fundraising plan is realistic and attainable. To ensure the success of your campaign, you’ll need them to really believe in your nonprofit’s mission and the project(s) you’re trying to fund.
Takeaway: Your fundraising campaign won’t go far without the right supporters inside and outside of your organization. During your fundraising feasibility study, thoroughly engage with important insiders to gain a more informative perspective on the campaign’s feasibility.
3. How can your nonprofit prepare for the fundraising campaign you envision?
At the end of your nonprofit’s fundraising feasibility study, you’ll work with your consultant to determine whether or not your organization is ready to take on the campaign that you envision.
For some nonprofits with significant fundraising and campaign experience, their feasibility study will reveal that they do have the means necessary and the support aligned to take on the fundraising campaign they’ve been hoping for.
When it comes to organizations without a long fundraising history or campaign experience, however, their consultant may assess that they’re not prepared to dive into the deep end with the proposed campaign and send them back to the drawing board.
Let’s consider some of the different ways organizations of varying fundraising experience levels can incorporate the findings of their feasibility study into their fundraising plans by going over some final feasibility study questions.
Experienced fundraising organizations
- What is needed to finalize the fundraising plan? Even if your consultant assesses that your nonprofit is ready to take on the fundraising campaign you’ve planned for, there may remain some tasks you’ll need to complete before the campaign can kick off. Your consultant may work with you to finalize your case statement, identify more giving prospects, or make connections with corporate partners.
Less experienced fundraising organizations
- What kind of feedback can the consultant provide? At this stage, a consultant may report to a less established organization that they aren’t ready for the campaign due to a lack of prospects, fundraising experience, internal cohesion, or support of the campaign/organization’s overall mission.
- How can the organization prepare to fundraise for the campaign they want? Less experienced organizations may be advised to take a few years to align themselves internally by hiring new executives or staff, make more prospect connections for potential gifts, or grow their annual fund in order to get prepared for their desired campaign.
- How can the organization build the relationships they need? A consultant may suggest that an organization makes connections not only with key giving prospects, but also with important individuals who can serve as fundraising ambassadors for the campaign, such as by bringing on highly-connected board members.
- Does the nonprofit need to grow their budget to take on the campaign they envision? One of the biggest roadblocks preventing organizations from reaching their ambitious fundraising goals is a lack of internal funding to make the campaign a reality. A consultant may suggest to a less established organization that they align a larger budget before their campaign can begin.
Takeaway: Fundraising feasibility studies aren’t just about saying “yes” or “no” to a proposed campaign. Rather, they serve as opportunities to evolve your nonprofit with actionable next steps based on the expertise of your nonprofit consultant.
Is your nonprofit ready to take on your next fundraising feasibility study? With these questions in hand, work with your nonprofit consultant to conduct a feasibility study with an eye toward organizational growth as well as fundraising success. Good luck!
- Fundraising Feasibility Studies Guide. Want to learn more about how your nonprofit can make your next fundraising feasibility study count? Check out our extensive guide to all things feasibility studies to get started.
- Capital Campaigns | How to Set and Exceed Your Goals. Part of holding an effective fundraising feasibility study is evaluating your campaign’s proposed fundraising goal. Learn more about setting capital campaign goals with our guide.
- Capital Campaigns | 9 Revolutionary (and Smart) Strategies. Before you start your next capital campaign, conducting a thorough feasibility study is a must. Discover how your nonprofit can ensure capital campaign success with MobileCause’s top strategies.