15 Fundraising Feasibility Study Questions For Campaign Prep
As a nonprofit fundraiser, you know just how important it is to strategically set fundraising campaign goals. While you want to keep your goals realistic and within your reach, you also want to be ambitious and grow your capacity over time. But how do you strike this balance?
The answer lies in conducting a fundraising feasibility study. And to get the most out of your nonprofit’s next fundraising feasibility study, your team needs to ensure it’s seeking the answers to a core set of questions so you can make informed decisions about your campaign plans. To help, we’ve created this guide, complete with the right questions and foundational knowledge you need to succeed:
- 15 Fundraising Feasibility Study Questions To Ask
- The Basics of Fundraising Feasibility Studies
- How a Consultant Can Help With Your Fundraising Feasibility Study
There’s no need for your upcoming fundraising campaign to be haphazard guesswork. Learn how to ask the right questions so you can truly assess your organization’s position and potential for success. Let’s begin!
15 Fundraising Feasibility Study Questions To Ask
Think of your fundraising feasibility study as a fact-finding mission. You need to critically examine your organization’s fundraising history, current capacity and plans, and the support you have for the upcoming campaign. This information can help you decide whether you’re ready to take on the upcoming campaign. If the results of your study are positive, you can use the information to design your campaign strategy. If the results indicate you should hold off on your campaign, you can use the insights gathered to improve your internal operations and prepare to execute the campaign in the future.
It all starts with asking your team members, stakeholders, and fundraising consultant the right questions. Below is a list of the questions you should ask:
5 Questions To Align Expectations With Your Internal Team
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 likely cause future roadblocks that will slow your progress.
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 tackle the campaign you’re planning for.
Your consultant will interview internal players to ask questions like:
- 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. When team members have conflicting ideas of how to spend the money it can be even more challenging.
- 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 agree on the timeline expectations of the campaign. Are they in it for the long haul?
- 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?
Your nonprofit’s fundraising feasibility study shouldn’t simply be about assessing the attainability of your fundraising goal, but should also involve determining how prepared and enthusiastic your team is to take on this challenge.
5 Questions To Gauge External Campaign Support
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 generates.
So, in addition to interviewing important internal players such as your staff and executives, 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 work. 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.
- 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 about your ability to reach your goal, or have a negative attitude toward how you utilize fundraising dollars in the long run? Or, does your organization’s brand evoke thoughts of trustworthiness and positive change?
- 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, such as pro bono services, fundraising work, or volunteer hours?
- Are they excited about 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.
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.
5 Questions To Prepare For the Campaign
At the end of your nonprofit’s fundraising feasibility study, you’ll work with your consultant to determine whether your organization is ready to begin 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 the different ways organizations of varying fundraising experience levels can incorporate their feasibility study findings into their fundraising plans by reviewing these final feasibility study questions:
- 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 be some remaining 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.
- 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. While this feedback may be discouraging, focus on moving forward in a positive direction so that one day in the near future you can successfully conduct the campaign.
- 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, making more prospect connections for potential gifts, or growing 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 highly-connected board members.
- Does the nonprofit need to grow its budget to take on the campaign it envisions? 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.
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.
The Basics of Fundraising Feasibility Studies
Fundraising feasibility studies are designed to help you assess your readiness before jumping into your next large-scale campaign. In this section, we’ll explore some feasibility study fundamentals.
What is a fundraising feasibility study?
Also known as a planning and feasibility study, a fundraising feasibility study is a targeted effort conducted by a nonprofit consultant to help an organization determine its preparedness to take on an important large-scale fundraising campaign.
These studies assess whether fundraising campaign goals are attainable, whether organizations have the support necessary to achieve their goals, and the steps nonprofits need to take to get ready for the campaign they envision. Most often organizations will conduct feasibility studies to assess their readiness for a capital campaign, but they may also be used for other types of campaigns, such as your annual fundraising campaign.
What are the steps of conducting a fundraising feasibility study?
While this guide has mainly focused on the questions you should be asking during a feasibility study, there’s a bit more to it than that. Here are the main steps of a fundraising feasibility study:
- Hire a fundraising consultant to lead your feasibility study.
- Take a critical look at your nonprofit’s fundraising history.
- Create an initial case for support.
- Identify the stakeholders you’ll interview during your feasibility study.
- Have your fundraising consultant interview your stakeholders and test your case for support.
- Examine the findings of your study with your consultant.
- Launch your campaign or take the next steps necessary to move your organization in a positive direction.
Remember, throughout all of these steps, your goal is to critically examine your organization’s internal preparedness for the desired campaign and the external support you have for accomplishing your campaign goal.
Is it necessary to hire a fundraising consultant for my feasibility study?
Some organizations may think that they can conduct a fundraising feasibility study in-house, especially if their budgets are tight.
However, objectivity is a crucial tenet of a fundraising feasibility study, especially during the interview phase. And your stakeholders may not be as willing to be completely forthright with someone from your organization as they would be with an unbiased third party.
In short, working with a fundraising consultant on your feasibility study will allow you to collect truthful, actionable insights that can help you make the best, most informed decisions about your campaign. Working with a fundraising consultant in this capacity can actually save your organization money over time as you ensure that you’re not overstretching your organization to prematurely start a campaign.
How a Consultant Can Help With Your Feasibility Study
When you partner with a fundraising consultant to help your organization complete a fundraising feasibility study, your organization will experience a number of benefits, such as:
- Unbiased assessment of your organization’s current fundraising capacity and internal operations
- Objective stakeholder interview results
- Tailor-made next steps and recommendations to help your nonprofit move in a positive direction no matter the results of the study
As you consider who to partner with for your fundraising feasibility study, nail down what you want your working relationship with your consultant to look like. For instance, you’ll need to take into account communication styles, whether you want a consultant you can work with in-person or remotely, and what your current budget looks like.
Also consider the consultant’s other services. For example, you may not need embedded staffing or executive search services now, but having a relationship with a consultant that offers these services can help you know who to turn to in the future if you do need those services.
At Averill Solutions, we have more than 75 years of combined experience in helping nonprofit organizations achieve their fundraising goals, and we’re ready to help you with your next fundraising feasibility study!
Feasibility studies depend on asking questions that will get you insights you can act on. With these 15 questions in hand, your nonprofit can feel empowered to take on its next fundraising feasibility study with an eye toward sustainable organizational growth and fundraising success. You’ve got this!
Ready to keep learning about the world of nonprofit fundraising? We recommend the following resources:
- Hiring a Fundraising Consultant: A Quick Guide to Success. A fundraising consultant can make a big difference in your nonprofit’s efforts to move its mission forward. Learn how to handle the hiring process.
- Capital Campaigns for Nonprofits: Steps for Success. Capital campaigns are massive endeavors. Use this guide to learn how to navigate the different phases of a campaign and succeed!
- 7 Steps to Encourage Church Donors During Your Annual Appeal. Getting ready for your diocesan annual appeal? Learn how to encourage your church’s donors to give.
- Your Nonprofit’s Annual Fund: Everything You Need to Know. An annual fund allows your nonprofit to continue operating. Learn how to conduct your annual fundraising campaign.