Rather than just diving into a capital campaign with a very big goal, most organizations begin with a study to evaluate the potential of the campaign. The majority of nonprofits want some degree of certainty that their campaign has the potential for success. While every campaign requires some degree of “building the plane while you’re flying it,” the feasibility study process will better position your organization to reach your goal. Why? Because nothing tests your organization like a capital campaign and if you could adequately prepare to reach your goal, why wouldn’t you want to ensure your organization’s success?
What is a Capital Campaign Feasibility Study?
A capital campaign feasibility study is a way of testing your plan and goals for an upcoming capital campaign by asking the advice and opinions of your largest donors and other community leaders. Their collective advice will help determine whether your case for support and financial goals are realistic and feasible. The study will evaluate:
- Your organization’s perception about the mission, fiscal responsibility, organizational trust, and effectiveness in the community.
- Your community’s perception about the proposed project and case for support.
- Leadership strength and giving potential of your board.
- Willingness of the board to work on a capital campaign and solicit major gifts.
- Availability of strong campaign volunteers for prospective leadership outside of the board.
- Size and depth of your donor database.
- Potential for lead gifts.
- Current fundraising climate and external factors that may affect the potential of your capital campaign.
The study should answer the following questions:
- Is your organization perceived as important in the community?
- Does the project make sense?
- Are the plans appropriate for your organization and the community?
- Does the project have a strong chance of succeeding?
- Will major donors in the community lend their support to your project?
- How much is your organization likely to raise for the project?
- Who are the key people whose participation is crucial for success?
- What are the best approaches and strategies for success?
- Is there sufficient staff to conduct a campaign properly?
- How much is the campaign likely to cost?
- What is a reasonable timeline for the campaign?
- What must the organization do to get ready for the campaign?
What happens during a feasibility study?
In-depth conversations with top donors and leaders about the draft case statement for the capital campaign is one of the most important activities. These conversations give key individuals who are vital to your campaign’s success the opportunity to discuss their views on the campaign, its importance, their willingness to make substantial gifts, and their willingness to be further involved.
The involvement of consultants with capital campaign expertise such as Catalyst Consulting Services, is not only important for our ability to analyze collective results of the discussions with top donors and leaders, but also because we are a neutral third party and key individuals are more likely to be forthright with us. This might expose concerns about your organization or the campaign that individuals might hesitate to share your organizational leaders or staff – enabling your organization to work on fixing any concerns before launch.
The study can take up to six months, depending on the scope of the capital project, and the number of interviewees. Through each stage of the study, Catalyst Consulting Services is testing for five key elements that are needed to run a successful campaign:
- Exceptional reputation (in your work, programs, and leaders)
- Compelling vision (the campaign goal is good investment for donors)
- Committed board and leadership
- Dependable gifts and philanthropic potential
- Sufficient internal systems (technology, infrastructure, personnel)
Respond Appropriately to the Results of the Study
Any consulting firm worth its salt does more than hand over data. Catalyst Consulting Services makes the data actionable. For example, the study might show that your organization needs to strengthen its capacity before running a capital campaign. This offers you a chance to respond fully so you can begin your campaign on the right foot. Catalyst Consulting Services advises you on next steps to get you ready as soon as possible.
Sometimes the campaign planning study confirms what you already knew. In many cases, though, the study results in surprising findings. Catalyst Consulting Services may discover that big gifts will come from unexpected sources. And sometimes campaign leadership emerges from people and places you didn’t anticipate. On the other hand, findings may reveal there is significant preparation required before launching a campaign. Whatever the case may be, there are always next steps we can take together.
Strategize With a Trusted Consulting Firm
Running a capital campaign is a major investment of your time, energy, and resources. Without an objective partner, it’s difficult to draw out all the information you need.
When you choose to hire Catalyst Consulting Services to carry out your feasibility study, you can be sure you are investing wisely. Early conversations with us help you to determine if and how your campaign vision can become a reality. External and internal assessments yield valuable, actionable insights and we are here to help facilitate a positive outcome for your organization.
Michelle Turman, MA, CFRE is the CEO of Catalyst Consulting Services whose mission is to facilitate positive change for nonprofits in the areas of executive searches, organizational management, and fundraising. With over twenty-eight years of nonprofit experience, Turman has been responsible for increasing the impact and best practices of nonprofit organizations she serves and has raised over $82 million for the Tampa Bay community through her professional and personal philanthropic efforts.
If your organization has questions on personality assessments while hiring or you and you are looking for help in the hiring process, contact Catalyst Consulting Services at (813) 839-2282