Why Your Campaign Should Start With a Feasibility Study

Category: Capital Campaigns

By the time you’ve decided to run a capital campaign, you’ve already considered the investments of time, effort, and energy your organization will need to make. And you’ve concluded these investments are warranted. A capital campaign will provide the chance to gain donors and supporters. It will also afford you the opportunity to build or elevate awareness for your organization. And at the end of it all, you could achieve what you once only dreamed of.

But dreams need strategies in order to be realized.

Even the most passionate organization needs the right structure and resources to build a successful capital campaign. While every campaign requires some degree of “building the plane while you’re flying it,” you’ll be better positioned to reach your goal with a reliable plan. And that plan should begin with a feasibility study.

But don’t think you have to take this on alone. Partnering with the right consultant to handle the lion’s share of the campaign planning can make all the difference. An expert consultant brings skills and a new perspective that complement and strengthen your own. Once you’ve chosen a consulting firm to carry out your feasibility study, you can get clear about the likelihood of your campaign’s success. The study will clarify your goal, gather critical data, and serve as a rallying point for your supporters. And in some cases, the study may show you that you have some more work to do before launching your campaign. 

Feasibility Study and Campaign Planning Study: What’s the Difference?

These terms are used interchangeably, so it’s a good idea to be familiar with both. Feasibility studies are sometimes called campaign planning studies — and rightly so. The word “feasibility” implies a yes or a no. And it is our belief at Benefactor Group that campaigns shouldn’t be assessed as possible or impossible. 

The term “campaign planning study” better captures the process by which we evaluate your organization’s readiness. The study’s life cycle includes the following stages:

  • Preparation includes writing a preliminary case for support.
  • Discovery involves interviews with major donors who can influence the campaign’s success and evaluation of internal systems.
  • Data analysis and reporting makes sense of the discovery findings.
  • Recommendations about campaign planning next steps emerge at the conclusion of the study’s cycle. 

As we move your organization through each stage of the study, we are testing for five key elements. You will need all of these in order to run a successful campaign: 

  1. Exceptional reputation (in your work, programs, and leaders)
  2. Compelling vision (the campaign goal is good investment for donors)
  3. Committed board and leadership 
  4. Dependable gifts and philanthropic potential
  5. Sufficient internal systems (technology, infrastructure, personnel)

Our priority is to wisely strategize. When your organization has all five of these elements, we are assured your campaign is possible.

Begin With a Preliminary Case for Support

In the preparation stage of the study, we build a preliminary case for support. You’ll have conversations that help us define the campaign’s objectives, plans, and desired impact. In essence, we are laying out your entire vision. 

The resulting three-page document serves several purposes. We share the document with key donors so they have a succinct summary of the campaign we hope they’ll support. And this preliminary case for support also acts as the foundation for the case for support to follow, which further taps into emotional and rational elements in order to help donors see the vision and value of the campaign.

Empower the Campaign Plan With Relevant Data

We have the ability to collect data externally and internally in the discovery stage. And that unbiased data serves an important purpose: It shows us how potential supporters and your organization’s systems will respond to the campaign.

External Assessment

We assess how potential donors will respond to your campaign vision through confidential one-on-one interviews and focus group. Because we are a neutral third party, we are better able to elicit honest responses 

Typically, we interview 35-40 individuals who can shed light on how your campaign’s objectives and plans might be received. And then we can gauge how these individuals might give in support of your campaign.

These key donors and influencers can also provide much-needed insight about how the greater community might respond to your campaign. 

Internal Assessment

It is essential that your management team believes it can achieve your campaign goals. An internal assessment checks for internal operational ability to get the job done. We are able to confirm your internal systems have the capacity to manage a successful campaign. 

Our team can evaluate campaign readiness in your organization’s people, processes, culture, and technology. For example, we take into account:

  • Staff composition, especially the number of available gift officers
  • Organizational policies and procedures
  • Existing culture and fundraising approach within your organization
  • Donor database strengths and weaknesses

Following our internal assessment, we write a set of recommendations for how to strengthen each component. Both external and internal assessments provide valuable data that we can use to formulate the best campaign strategy. And compelling data has the potential to energize your leadership.

Respond Appropriately to the Results of the Study

Any consulting firm worth its salt does more than hand over data. We make 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. We advise 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. We 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, our 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 Benefactor Group to carry out your campaign planning study, you can be sure you are investing wisely. Early conversations with us help you articulate your campaign vision. External and internal assessments yield valuable, actionable insights. And we can help you translate our study recommendations into practical next steps. In essence, we’re here to ensure you realize your fundraising dreams. 

Considering a campaign planning study? Let’s talk.