Feasibility Planning Part V: Arrival at the Report

Amy Schiffman
October 26, 2017

Thanks for tuning in to the final post in a five-part series about campaign feasibility planning. We’ve covered significant territory thus far, including information about why organizations embark upon feasibility studies, when they conduct the study, what materials are needed, who to interview and what the process entails. Now we’re ready to discuss the arrival at the goal and the final report.

Ideally, we present the final report to key staff and/or board members to verify the accuracy of facts stated about the nonprofit before we present it more broadly to volunteer leadership. Let’s now discuss the key components of the study report. This report typically includes the following:

  1. An introduction (or report overview)
  2. An executive summary (which will likely include key recommendations)
  3. A question by question analysis of responses, including observations and quotes
  4. Key issues for consideration
  5. Recommendations (including a general campaign timetable and a campaign goal or goal range)
  6. Next steps
  7. Appended items, e.g., list of interviewees, materials used in the study such as the case for support

The recommendations section of the report will likely include a target campaign goal or goal range. The report itself provides a thorough summary based on study results, synthesizing findings from interviews and ultimately culminating in a recommendation to:

  1. Proceed toward the campaign goal at the proposed (or higher) project budget, or
  2. Proceed with the campaign at a lower project budget, or
  3. Postpone the campaign until specific issues have been addressed

In most feasibility study interviews, we provide a gift range chart (as opposed to soliciting the donor with a specific ask), which should prepare the donor for the solicitation conversation and create interest in a philanthropic investment. Based on the responses to the gift chart, and a consultant (or feasibility team’s) readiness to address either A or B (above), the following methods may be used to predict the campaign goal:

  • Lead Gift Analysis
  • A campaign lead gift typically ranges from 20 – 40% of the total funds raised.
  • Top 10 Gift Analysis
  • Historically, for a smaller institution, the top ten gifts identified in a feasibility study total 40% of the campaign goal. For a larger institution, it might be 33% of the campaign goal. (For 40%: Top gifts X 2.5)
  • Total Gifts Analysis
  • Similar to the “Top 10 Gift Analysis,” research has shown that for smaller institutions, the total amount of gifts identified in the feasibility study ideally represents 40% of total fundraising capacity, or 33% for a larger institution. (For 40%: Total gifts X 2.5)

In addition to the campaign goal or goal range, the report should include a thorough summary of feedback received, recommendations toward addressing challenges or roadblocks identified during the study, the names of volunteers or prospective donors identified by interviewees, and any background research conducted on prospective donors or interviewees.

In summary, by listening closely to stakeholders, organizations can learn a great deal about how their nonprofit is perceived by the outside world and proceed toward a case for support that responds to the passions and priorities of its donors/prospects and provides direction and clarity to its leadership.

According to Betty Ann Copley Harris, FAHP, a contributor to the book The Fundraising Feasibility Study, by the end of the interview, ideally your feasibility study participants would be able or willing to do the following:

  • Know more about your organization after the meeting than they did before.
  • Tell you where your organization fits on their list of philanthropic priorities.
  • Offer important clues as to what it would take to elevate the position of your organization among their top three charitable interests.
  • Have heightened interest in the work of your organization.
  • Offer constructive advice about the case for support and how it can be improved.
  • Be eager to become more involved and possibly serve as a campaign volunteer.
  • Offer the names of other philanthropists who might be interested in supporting your campaign.
  • Be willing to attend information sessions offered in the months ahead.
  • Offer to host a cultivation reception in their home to introduce your organization to their circle of friends.
  • Anticipate making a generous gift to your campaign.

Beyond the dollar goal itself, the feasibility process should provide your organization with important feedback and insight that is critical to its long-term sustainability.

We thank you for taking this feasibility journey with us and look forward to your questions and comments! Ready to make your capital campaign a reality? Check out this week’s freebie – a sample capital campaign timeline – and tune in next week for the beginning of a conversation about campaign planning…