Fundraising Feasibility Studies Guide & Sample Questions
Conduct your most informative fundraising feasibility study yet with our guide.
Preparing for Your Fundraising Feasibility Study
Before your next fundraising feasibility study can begin, your nonprofit needs to know how to prepare. Follow these essential steps to lay the right foundation for your feasibility study.
1. Hire a consultant to lead your fundraising feasibility study.
The key to conducting an informative fundraising feasibility study? Hiring the right nonprofit consultant to get the job done.
While some organizations may be tempted to keep the study in house, your nonprofit opens itself up to skewed results if you take this course of action. Fundraising feasibility studies need to be overseen by impartial consultants who can bring their unique experience and perspectives to the table.
Over the course of your campaign’s study, a nonprofit consultant will lead your team through some of the following important tasks:
- Conducting background research to better understand your organization.
- Screening your database for giving prospects.
- Conducting interviews with key stakeholders to assess campaign support.
- Compiling study findings.
- Prescribing “next steps” to accomplish before your campaign can begin.
Fundraising feasibility studies are at their most helpful when they’re approached as an aspect of strategic planning. Not only can these studies help your nonprofit determine whether or not your desired campaign is viable, but they can also help build relationships and hone your fundraising strategy.
Great nonprofit consultants will have experience conducting feasibility studies, a history working with organizations in your sector, an appreciation for your regional fundraising culture, and they’ll maintain an open dialogue with your executives and board.
Because nonprofit consultants aren’t internal members of your organization, individuals are more likely to provide honest feedback on your campaign during the interview phase of the study.
Similarly, since they have a more diverse background from working with varied nonprofit organizations, they’ll be more equipped to identify potential fundraising roadblocks and can help your team sidestep unforseen strategic challenge points.
2. Analyze your nonprofit’s fundraising history.
Another essential step in preparing for your nonprofit’s fundraising feasibility study is working with your consultant to compile and analyze background research on your organization.
During this stage, your consultant will attempt to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your nonprofit and will begin to build a foundation upon which they’ll assess the attainability of your fundraising campaign’s goals.
At this time, your consultant will compile:
- A history of your organization since its inception.
- A timeline of your past fundraising campaigns.
- An analysis of your past fundraising achievements.
- An analysis of fundraising success stories within your organization’s sector.
- An initial overview of your proposed fundraising goal, timeline, and other campaign benchmarks.
After compiling this information, your nonprofit consultant will develop a document which will be used throughout the rest of your feasibility study as a way to guide the assessment of your campaign.
Over the course of the strategic planning period of your fundraising campaign, your consultant may use this document to produce your campaign’s official case statement and related fundraising collateral.
This case statement will be used to inform the public of your fundraising campaign, outline why your cause is worthy of prospects’ support, and brief individuals on the specific fundraising needs of your organization.
3. Identify interview candidates for your fundraising feasibility study.
Before the interview phase of your fundraising feasibility study can commence, your team will need to identify qualified candidates for this process.
Working with your consultant, develop a list of important internal and external voices whose perspectives will offer valuable insight into the viability of your campaign as it currently stands, as well as into how your fundraising plan can become more effective.
Not only should your team meet during this phase, but you should also select key board members, community leaders, and staff members to be a part of the interview process.
Having an eclectic balance of insider and outsider voices as a part of this phase will provide your nonprofit with a well-rounded picture of how your proposed campaign is supported.
Remember: these interviews won’t simply be for determining whether or not there’s sufficient enthusiasm for your campaign from giving prospects.
At the end of the fundraising feasibility study, your team will also want to know if staff, board, volunteers, etc., are willing and ready to play the roles necessary to make the campaign a success.
4. Align a fundraising feasibility study committee of “insiders.”
Parallel to your fundraising feasibility study’s stakeholder interviews, you’ll also want to prepare for the assessment by gathering together a panel of important voices as an aspect of the planning process.
Build a committee of community insiders out of many of the same individuals that will be singled out for your campaign’s interview phase.
In addition to requesting their personal assessment of your nonprofit and your fundraising campaign plan, call on these individuals to get involved with your campaign from the ground up.
The earlier you bring these individuals on, the more invested they’ll be in your campaign and the long-term success of your organization on the whole.
These insiders can assist your nonprofit over the course of your feasibility study by providing insight and assistance beyond the scope of the interview phase, such as:
- Offering campaign collateral feedback.
- Identifying and networking with giving prospects.
- Sharing fundraising recommendations and strategies.
As you align important individuals to include within your insider committee with the help of your nonprofit consultant, place an emphasis on including prospects for giving during this phase.
Since your team is engaging with important prospects as you fine-tune your campaign, you’ll rest easy knowing that the campaign itself is tailored to what gets these important givers excited.
While this working group shouldn’t solely be comprised of potential campaign contributors, it’s especially important to connect with these valuable individuals during the planning phase.
The fact of the matter is that high-capacity givers typically network with other high-capacity givers. If they are enthusiastic about your campaign from the get-go, or if they feel invested in your fundraising plan, they’ll be more likely to serve as “ambassadors” after the campaign kicks off.
Conducting Your Fundraising Feasibility Study
Now that your nonprofit has laid the right groundwork, your fundraising feasibility study can commence. Remember these steps to get the most out of your next study.
5. Have your consultant interview feasibility study stakeholders.
After carefully preparing with your nonprofit consultant, your fundraising feasibility study can officially commence by conducting your stakeholder interviews.
These interviews can be in person or on the phone but should always be comprehensive in nature. While you don’t want to overwhelm your interviewees, it’s important that your consultant is able to glean as much insight as possible during this process.
At this time, your consultant will ask interviewees exploratory questions related to their perception of the attainability of your nonprofit’s fundraising campaign plan, as well as what kind of role they anticipate they’ll play during your campaign.
Consider some of these example questions a consultant might ask during stakeholder interviews to get an idea of how this process can play out for nonprofits like yours.
- What is your history with this nonprofit organization? What relationships do you have with comparable organizations?
- How does the work of this nonprofit influence your day-to-day life?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you in the leadership of this nonprofit?
- Based on the campaign’s tentative fundraising goal and the organization’s proposed campaign timeline, do you anticipate that the goal will be met?
- How do you perceive the fundraising goal? Is it too ambitious, too conservative, or does it otherwise miss the mark?
- Is the proposed project that this campaign is designed to finance worthwhile, in your opinion? Do you feel the fundraising goal is attainable, but that the money should be spent on different projects?
- Are you inspired to get involved with this campaign in an official volunteer capacity? Would you be willing to network to connect the organization with giving prospects?
6. Go over the findings of your fundraising feasibility study with your consultant.
While most nonprofit organizations are quite familiar with the role of fundraising feasibility studies in the campaign planning process, organizations sometimes fail to leverage their results into actual strategy improvements.
It can be difficult for nonprofits to face the assessment of their consultant or to face the fact that their organization isn’t ready for the campaign they envision.
However, it’s crucial that nonprofits don’t consider the study process to be over once the interviews have ended. In fact, the final phases of your nonprofit’s fundraising feasibility study are the most important ones of all.
With the guidance of your nonprofit consultant, review feedback you’ve received from stakeholders, the insight offered from individuals on your insider committee, and the recommendations of your fundraising consultant.
At this time, your consultant will either recommend that you go forward with the campaign in line with your proposed timeline and goals, or send your team back to the drawing board.
No matter what conclusions your consultant reaches, it’s important that your nonprofit actually heeds their advice.
Half-baked fundraising plans are a recipe for failure, and when a nonprofit invests money in a campaign that isn’t set up for success, the repercussions can be detrimental to your organization in the long-term.
7. Launch your campaign or take necessary “next steps.”
It’s possible that at the end of a nonprofit feasibility study, consultants will recommend that the organization immediately move forward with their fundraising plan.
Sometimes, however, consultants will have some recommendations for improvements and will suggest that the organization take some time to get better prepared for the campaign.
In the best-case scenarios, these suggestions might include simply identifying more prospects, adjusting the fundraising goal, or modifying the campaign timeline.
Based on the feedback received, consultants may prescribe next steps that could take your team months or even years to accomplish.
More substantial strategic recommendations may include:
- Taking time to build stronger relationships with prospects or to identify additional contributors for major gifts.
- Refocusing the project the proposed campaign is intended to fund.
- Conducting a smaller-scale fundraising campaign to build fundraising experience.
- Realigning staff internally to become better equipped to take on the campaign.
- Bringing on new board members to boost the networking possibilities of your nonprofit.
What’s one common suggestion nonprofit consultants make for less experienced organizations?
By gradually growing the fundraising goal of their annual fund campaign, many nonprofits are able to steadily broaden their network of prospects and improve public perception of their organization.
Since gifts to an annual fund campaign are considered “unrestricted funds” your team will have more freedom to invest that revenue back into the growth of your nonprofit.
Feasibility Study Questions
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Nonprofit Feasibility Studies
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