Boost Your Nonprofit Feasibility Study: 4 Key Strategies | npENGAGE

Boost Your Nonprofit Feasibility Study: 4 Key Strategies

By on Feb 28, 2018


If your nonprofit has ever launched a big fundraising campaign (like a capital campaign or an annual fundraising campaign), it’s pretty likely that you conducted a feasibility study to get prepared.

When an organization conducts a nonprofit feasibility study, they interview important stakeholders in their organization to assess their support of an upcoming fundraising campaign.

Nonprofit feasibility studies are a key part of the planning phase and for your next campaign you want to know that your team is getting all you can out of the process.

While there’s a perception that a feasibility study can be an unnecessary expense for campaign planning, this is really an investment your nonprofit can’t afford to miss out on.

Looking for tips to take your nonprofit feasibility study game to the next level? Try out some of our favorite strategies when planning your next big campaign:

  1. Hire a great consultant to conduct your nonprofit feasibility study.
  2. Assemble key insiders for your feasibility study interviews.
  3. Ask the right questions in the right way.
  4. Put the findings of your feasibility study into action.

Let’s dive into these awesome feasibility study best practices!

1. Find the right leader to conduct your nonprofit feasibility study.

Getting your next nonprofit feasibility study right starts by finding the best nonprofit consultant to lead the effort.

Many nonprofits (especially smaller organizations or those without a proven fundraising track record) often make the mistake of thinking that they can handle their study in-house. After all, it can be tempting to save on the added expense.

However, if your nonprofit fails to find the right consultant to lead your feasibility study, you could be risking fundraising failure down the line. Not only can this spell doom for your campaign, but it can have lasting effects on your nonprofit’s public perception.

This is why  successful fundraising feasibility studies start with finding the right consultant to lead the way. When your nonprofit hires a consultant to conduct the study, they’ll handle important tasks like:

  • Identifying informative interview candidates.
  • Interviewing stakeholders about your campaign plan.
  • Assessing the results of your study and explaining them to your team.
  • Prescribing next steps for your nonprofit to take to get ready for fundraising.
  • And more!

Because a third-party consultant isn’t an internal member of your team, they’ll have the perspective and insight you need to get an accurate picture of how well your campaign is planned.

Even better? Since they aren’t a member of your staff, interviewees are more likely to be honest with them when they give their feedback about your proposed campaign.

Most fundraising consultant firms offer feasibility studies as an à la carte option; with no strings attached, there should be nothing keeping your team from hiring a nonprofit consultant to make your next feasibility study count!

Bonus! Conducting a nonprofit feasibility study should be first on your list when planning an annual fund campaign. Learn more strategies for annual fundraising success by checking out MobileCause’s annual fund campaign guide.

2. Assemble key insiders for your feasibility study interviews.

Your nonprofit’s feasibility study is only as valuable as the feedback you receive. With that in mind, your team needs to take the time to work with your consultant to find the best interview candidates possible before launching your study.

During a typical nonprofit feasibility study, your team might select a committee of supporters with a proven track record of involvement in your fundraising campaigns. By all means, these individuals should be interviewed!

However, to really make the results of your study count, your nonprofit should invite a diverse panel of insiders to voice their feedback. These interviewees shouldn’t simply be limited to donors and prospects, but should also include internal team members and community leaders.

When assembling your list of interview candidates, consider some of the following individuals to add to the roster:

  • Leaders at your nonprofit (including your executive director, major gifts officer, development director, and more).
  • Staff members within your organization who have a direct role in the proposed campaign.
  • Donors who have made gifts to your nonprofit in the past (including high-impact donors like major gift givers and recurring contributors).
  • Nonprofit professionals from other organizations who have experience with campaigns that match the scale of your proposed plan.
  • Volunteers who have donated time to your organization and comparable organizations in the same field.

As your consultant leads the interview process, be sure that valuable voices (and potential campaign leaders) are providing insight into how to improve your plan.

The success of your proposed fundraising campaign will rely on supporters having confidence that your plan is worthwhile and poised for success. For this reason, why wouldn’t you want as well-rounded of an interview panel as possible?


3. Ask the right questions in the right way.

Not only should your interview candidates be carefully selected, but the questions that make up your interview should be tailor-made to offer meaningful insight.

Working with your nonprofit consultant, your campaign planning team will help draft key questions to ask interviewees when they meet. These should address core aspects of your campaign, such as your mission, fundraising goal, timeline, and the perception of your organization.

However, your feasibility study questions shouldn’t simply address how well interviewees support your campaign plan, but rather how well they’d support your campaign after it launches.

Since your consultant has experience working with other organizations on big campaigns, they’ll be able to offer expertise during the question-writing process. Depending on how hands-on you want your consultant to be, they may even develop their questions independently.

Remember: one size does not fit all when it comes to feasibility study questions. To get this process right, you’ll need to tailor the questions to your nonprofit, your constituency, the fundamentals of your campaign plan, and other variable factors.

Your questions should cover all of the following subjects:

  • The involvement of interviewees in your organization.
  • Their historical support of comparable campaigns.
  • Their excitement for your nonprofit’s mission, case for giving, and your organization itself.
  • Their willingness to support your campaign, either as a key internal player, a donor, a fundraising ambassador, or a volunteer.
  • Their perception of the reasonability of your fundraising goal, campaign timeline, etc.

As your team develops a strategic list of questions, remember that the interview phase of your study is an important part of building support for your upcoming campaign. During this process, your organization will forge connections with important individuals you’ll later rely on.

With this in mind, make sure your interviewees feel like they have a hand in shaping the trajectory of your campaign. When people feel heard and know that your organization values what they have to contribute, they’ll be more likely to follow through with supporting your campaign in the long run.

Bonus! Need more insight into crafting an informative feasibility study question list? Check out Averill Fundraising Solutions’ top questions to ask during a fundraising feasibility study before, during, and after your interviews.


4. Put the findings of your feasibility study into action.

After the feasibility study is finished, your consultant will work with your campaign planning committee and determine how prepared your team is to take on the plan you’ve proposed.

In addition to interviewing supporters, your consultant has already assessed your plan themselves (and analyzed the data to back it up). It’s at this stage that they’ll tell you in which areas your plan is lacking and where you don’t need to make major improvements.

So, how can your team members get more from this stage in the process? It’s actually really simple: heed the advice of your nonprofit consultant.

Too many organizations fail before their campaign even begins by ignoring the expertise of their nonprofit consultant. Why did you conduct a feasibility study in the first place if not to get the honest truth about how prepared you are for your proposed campaign?

In this final stage of the planning process, your consultant will either give your fundraising plan the green light or tell you to take a step back. Most organizations, even those with historical fundraising success, will need to examine at least one element of their proposed campaign to prepare.

If your nonprofit needs to head back to the drawing board, your consultant may suggest:

  • Adjusting cornerstone aspects of the campaign plan like your fundraising goal, the timeline of the campaign, and your campaign objective.
  • Identifying additional prospects and stewarding individuals you’ll rely on for key campaign contributions and major gifts.
  • Building fundraising capacity by launching a smaller campaign or steadily increasing your annual fund’s goal year over year.
  • Developing a succession plan to anticipate potential staff changes over the course of the campaign (fluctuating leadership can have dire fundraising repercussions).

Whether these are small fixes or ambitious undertakings, you can still lean on your nonprofit consultant to guide you through the process after the study ends.

They might take on the role of campaign director, lead the campaign planning process, or help you find new team members to tide the course. Since they’ve already worked with your team, they can seamlessly transition into a more permanent role.

Are you excited to start your next big campaign off on the right foot? With these flawless nonprofit feasibility study strategies, you can’t go wrong!

Bob Happy brings nearly 35 years of experience providing expert leadership and direction to clients across the not-for-profit sector to his current role as President of Averill Solutions. Before forming Averill Solutions, Bob served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the nation’s largest fundraising firm. He has mentored hundreds of professional fundraising practitioners and many have joined him at Averill Fundraising Solutions.

Comments (2)

  • Shelly Gammieri says:

    Thank you for sharing! There is a lot of really useful information here. What a great way to approach feasibility studies and reinforce the effort and expense as a valuable investment.

  • Rosalinda Miguel says:

    I really like the second point. It is very important to receive feedback from internal and external stakeholders to assess the feasibility of a campaign.

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