Too often organizations are focused on how quickly they can begin fundraising. “We need the money now!” is a common cry. Our response is simply it’s not how quickly you begin raising money, it’s how quickly you reach your fundraising goal.
If you start your fund-raising without finding out how local stakeholders and potential donors will respond to the specifics of your campaign, you will probably raise some money, but the real question is “will you raise all the money you need? Fundraising campaigns that launch without the market research that a fundraising feasibility study provides can later find themselves in the midst of what is known as ‘campaign stall’ – they have raised a percentage of their goal, but they can’t raise the remaining funds.
Conducting a fundraising feasibility study or survey is one way to avoid such stall. This is because the results of the study will let you know important information such as:
- How do those interviewed really feel about your proposed fundraising campaign? Do they understand what you are raising money for and how those funds will help you deliver on your mission?
- Do your current and prospective donors believe the organization or institution is headed in the right direction?
- How do they rate your CEO, board members, and staff?
- Do people believe your organization fulfills an important role in the community? Do they know your mission, vision, and major programs?
- Are they willing to give to your proposed fundraising campaign? Why or why not? If yes, at what level? If no, would they consider making a gift at a later date?
- Are there others they know who would want to financially support your organization?
- Who can provide volunteer fundraising leadership? Who amongst those interviewed would be willing to give their time to help you raise the money you need? Who else can they recommend to provide such leadership?
- Who can provide in-kind resources to help offset costs associated with fundraising and annual operations? Can a local company provide your printing? Can a realtor help you secure donated office space?
- Most importantly, do those interviewed believe you can reach your fundraising goal, and how much time do they think it will take for you to do so?
That last point is the most important. If the people you intend to ask to financially support your organization are not willing to do so, it is important for you to know their objections, to take the time to address them (if you choose to do so), and as needed to find other individuals and institutions who feel more favorably towards your organization, its leadership, mission and goals.
The information gained from feasibility interviews can help you modify your proposed fundraising strategies and activities. It can also help you address the concerns of those interviewed and to take advantage of opportunities you may not have otherwise known of.
© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010.