Tag Archives: feasibility study

What You Can Learn From a Fundraising Feasibility Study

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:

  1. 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?
  2. Do your current and prospective donors believe the organization or institution is headed in the right direction?
  3. How do they rate your CEO, board members, and staff?
  4. Do people believe your organization fulfills an important role in the community? Do they know your mission, vision, and major programs?
  5. 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?
  6. Are there others they know who would want to financially support your organization?
  7. 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?
  8. 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?
  9. 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.

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Feasibility Studies: Information is Power

A key element to successful fundraising is accurately judging how your efforts will be received by potential donors and your community at large. Your board, executive director and development director can make decisions about the amount of funds to be raised and how they should be used — but will people outside your organization or institution agree with their assessment? Will they give and encourage others to do so?

How can you get this crucial information? You may not know where to turn or what questions to ask.

The best way to answer these questions is to conduct a feasibility study or survey. Information is powerful–and one of the most useful tools an organization can employ is a survey or study to help design its fundraising strategy.

A feasibility study or survey is the process of interviewing key individuals who will provide you with the funding, resources, and influence that will assure the success of your fundraising efforts. It can also include interviews with those who may oppose your organization and its quest to raise money. The purpose of the interviews is to find out how your community responds to your proposed fundraising before you begin the process of asking people for money. In this way you can better shape your campaign and address any objections before they arise.

Both studies and surveys should include 12 to 45 interviews conducted in person when possible. The number of interviews is influenced by the amount of money you need to raise.

A study provides detailed analysis and statistics of the responses to each question, key findings, and suggested next steps. A survey typically includes key findings and suggested next steps. The main difference between the two is cost and time. A study takes more time and costs more money. Most institutions raising large sums of money require a study because the detailed analysis provides a higher level of due-diligence.

Whether a study or a survey the information obtained from the interviewees is not attributed to specific individuals, allowing them to speak more freely. This is important because sometimes it is hard for people who know us to tell us what we may most need to know.

Conducting a feasibility study or survey begins with providing interviewees a detailed document to read before their interview. This document outlines your organization’s mission, vision, successes, leadership, how much you want to raise, how the funds will be used, and the impact they will have.

The actual study or survey is usually conducted by an independent consultant. This is for several reasons:

1.    People will often tell a consultant things they are unwilling to say to the executive director or an individual associated with your organization.

2.    Most organizations don’t have staff or board members who know how to conduct a feasibility study or survey and analyze the results.

In next week’s blog post we’ll tell you what kinds of crucial information can be obtained from a feasibility study or survey. Stay tuned!

© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010.