Feasibility Planning Part II: How Does It Work?

Amy Schiffman
October 5, 2017

If you read last week’s blog, you’ll remember that I talked about how you know if your organization should embark upon a feasibility study. We covered the question of “why”. Just to recap, a feasibility study is conducted prior to a capital, endowment or significant major gifts campaign. It is part of the campaign planning process. Feasibility studies are especially critical before embarking upon campaigns to build or renovate facilities or purchase land and they are primarily used to test a fundraising campaign goal. 

Now that you are caught up, you should know that I promised to continue the conversation with information about the “what” and the “how” -- in other words, what materials are needed and how we go about conducting the study. This week, we will cover the “what” (and next week, the “how”). So here goes…

Before we begin conducting the feasibility study we engage in developing a series of documents and materials during a period of time we call the campaign readiness (or campaign preparation) phase. During this phase we draft, edit and finalize the following:

  1. Statement of Intent (also called Philanthropic Market Study, Statement of Need, Case for Support or Case for Giving). This document includes a:
  2. History of the nonprofit
  3. Statement of its mission
  4. Description of its services and accomplishments
  5. Description of the community problem that needs to be solved
  6. Explanation of how the nonprofit proposes to solve the problem
  7. Description of the proposed campaign and dollar goal
  8. Breakdown of anticipated project costs
  9. A vision of the nonprofit in the future once the campaign goal is reached
  10. Suggested appended items: staff list, Board list, Campaign Committee list, proposed gift table, additional nonprofit information
  11. Feasibility Study Questionnaire
  12. May include FAQ so interviewer can respond to questions asked by interviewees
  13. Gift Table
  14. Lead gift may be represented at approximately one-third of the campaign goal (Download this week’s freebie for a sample gift table!)
  15. Draft letter or email to invite prospective interviewees to participate in the study
  16. Thank you letter or email following interviews
  17. Background information about the interviewees and their relationship to the nonprofit

These materials are typically developed by a consultant in coordination with an organization’s development director, executive director and campaign committee.  Once the documents are created, they tend to serve an important, extended purpose during the campaign implementation phase. The case for support, gift table, FAQ’s and donor/prospect background information should be updated once the study concludes and these tools play a critical role in preparing the campaign committee for their role as solicitors and ambassadors in the campaign.

Don’t forget to join me next week for the 3rd post in this series about feasibility study planning! We will talk about feasibility study interviewees and work to demystify the study process. I will look forward to your questions and comments…