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Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Happy New Year!  What resolutions have you made for your organization in 2014?  Is it time to rethink your organizational strategy?  Or, as the economy continues to improve, is it time to think about a capital campaign?  And if so, should we do a feasibility study?

Many times when we visit a potential client there is someone on the interview team who invariably says “This feasibility study thing seems like a lot of money to spend to decide if we can raise money!” If the feasibility study has a positive result it may seem like an unnecessary effort. Likewise, if the results say more work needs to be done before a campaign can begin then there is a feeling that the money was wasted.

In many ways it reminds me of horsemen and veterinarians. When the horse is sick they call the vet. If the horse recovers the thinking is that you didn’t need the vet; if the horse doesn’t recover what good was the vet anyway. So, hindsight says the vet only cost money but didn’t add value. Well, you should know I always paid my equine vet bills, even before my daughter grew up to become one.

So here are six questions and how we answer them:

1   Why do we need a feasibility study before mounting a capital campaign or any special fundraising campaign?
A comprehensive will help you decide whether, when and how you should begin a major campaign of any sort. It will show you how you are perceived by your constituents and in the community, identify potential volunteers and donors and assess perceptions of how the campaign will support and strengthen your mission.

2   Why can’t we conduct an in house study and save money?
You need candid responses from respondents, not responses based on what friends and acquaintances think you want to hear. An independent third party, the consultant, gives the distance needed to elicit unbiased answers. In addition, in house studies do cost money: if conducted by staff what are their costs and what doesn’t get done when tasked with this assignment?

What specifically can be learned from a feasibility study?
  • How much money you can raise.
  • How long it will take to meet your goal.
  • How much it will cost to raise the funds.
  • Whether or not you have the infrastructure able to mount and sustain a campaign.
  • Whether or not the timing is right for your campaign. 

4    What additional benefits can be gained from a feasibility study?
  •       A wealth of information and perspectives the leadership can use when making intelligent decisions
  •       Education of a broader community about you r programs, outcomes and needs
  •       Identification of programs and projects with the strongest appeal to donors
  •      Critical points of contact between you and key prospects 

      How much does a good feasibility study cost?
  •      Costs range from $15,000 to $45,000 depending on the scope and complexity of the study.
  •      The fee should include drafting the case statement, developing the interview lists from a cross section of key prospects and community leaders, conducting the actual interviews in person, and producing a final report that will serve as a working document with recommendations for going forward. 

     What questions should a consultant be prepared to answer before being engaged? Before asking these questions you should have preselected firms to interview who have presented a clear, comprehensive and cost effective proposal.
  • What is the firm’s experience with similar organizations?
  • What will the consultants relationship be with staff and board members?
  • Who will be assigned to our project and what are their credentials?

Everyone can use a little luck.

You know the old saying, "You are what you eat."  Well if this Bon Appetit article is any indication, here are 10 ways to eat your way to good luck in the new year!