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Some capital campaign feasibility studies are simply a waste of time and effort.

It’s a real shame when an organization spends significant time, energy, and money on a study that is not helpful. Frankly, this result is disappointing to everyone involved.

As consultants, we’re also just as disappointed as our clients and their board members. It’s like all this effort has just been wasted – time and money down the drain.

What Creates a Disappointing Feasibility Study?

Why do some feasibility studies bomb out? It’s because the donors who are interviewed in the study have nothing to share.

When we ask them how they feel about the organization’s work, their faces are blank. They have no opinion.

They say that they cannot offer feedback about the proposed campaign, or case for support, because they don’t know enough about the organization. Even more,  they are not enthusiastic about giving to the potential campaign.

Here’s what they will say: “I’m just not connected enough to this organization to have an opinion.”

In other words, your relationship with that donor is cold or at best lukewarm.  The donor just isn’t ready to enthusiastically engage in helping you prepare for a campaign.

What Are You Trying to Accomplish with a Feasibility Study?

Why are you doing these donor interviews anyway? Here’s why: Feasibility studies are a crucial step in your due diligence in planning a campaign.

In a study, you are asking for feedback from key supporters about your fundraising potential – well before you launch a campaign. How do they feel about personally supporting this project?

You want to find out what they think about your proposed campaign, the expanded impact you want to make, and the projects you want to fund.

In these confidential interviews, donors will often share the names of people who should be involved in a campaign. What’s more, they’ll often identify other major donors we should involve, and share suggestions on the right person or people to chair the campaign.

At Gail Perry Group, we like to use study interviews to generate even more enthusiasm for the upcoming campaign. In fact, we are often able to locate early lead gifts from the donors we interview.

The Key to a Successful Capital Campaign Feasibility Study

The key to a successful feasibility study is warming up your donors and interviewees ahead of time.

Bring them into the fold. Touch base with them personally. Design private or small group engagement events to start introducing the campaign scope to them.

Hold one-on-one advice visits with your hoped-for lead donors early in the game. Ask their opinion of your plans. Discuss their ideas with them.

Above all, make sure that the people you select for feasibility study interviews know enough about your project to have opinions to share.

We Don’t Believe in a Traditional Feasibility Study

At Gail Perry Group, we are rethinking the traditional (stale) approaches to capital campaigns every day. What’s working today and what’s not?

Don’t forget: the traditional capital campaign feasibility study approach was developed in the 1960s.

Most donors don’t want to be interviewed “cold” about a potential project. Especially when they are not particularly involved with the organization. Clearly, you won’t get good results when your donor interviewees have no feedback to share.

That’s the difference between a successful feasibility study and a disappointing one: It’s the activity of warming them up and engaging them.

Our Approach to Capital Campaign Feasibility Studies: Engage Your Interviewees Early

We take a more innovative, 21st-century approach to feasibility studies, which in our eyes are all-important campaign planning tools.

We work with our clients, well ahead of the interviews, to design engagement approaches for the people we want to chat with within our study.

We help our clients create wonderful, emotion-triggering experiences with these potential major donors, to connect them much more deeply to the powerful work our clients are doing.

We coach our clients to have private Advice Visits with them well ahead of the consultant’s interview.

When we do this kind of deeper preparation, almost on an individual basis with these donors, we can see startling results in a feasibility study.

Donors will start offering money to support the project. They will jump in with both feet to volunteer on the campaign committee. They will offer to open doors to new philanthropists and donors who might be interested.

THAT’s the kind of result you want in a feasibility study. Anything less just might be a waste of time.

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly insights with you as we cover important fundraising strategies. 

If your organization is planning a capital campaign or expanding your major gifts program – we can help. Send an email to coaching@gailperry.com if you’d like to schedule a free strategy call with us.

 

What do you really want out of a feasibility study? Most nonprofit leaders just want to know how much they can raise. They want the feasibility study to tell them: is the campaign a go – or, is it a no go?

But are those the right questions to ask? Especially when you are considering investing a significant amount of time and money in the study alone?

With all that investment, wouldn’t you like to get more than just Yes or No?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you actually closed gifts, major gifts, lead gifts? What if you even found your campaign chair as a result of the study?

What Can an Expertly Crafted Feasibility Study Accomplish?

A great feasibility study can open your donors’ hearts and minds to all the wonderful possibilities your project might create. Even more, a great study allows your donors to get invested in how you might accomplish even more than you ever dreamed of.

Great feasibility studies can deeply engage your donors, warm them up about a potential gift, and encourage them to get involved on the ground floor. As a result, you can accomplish so very much – and move your campaign right along.

Include a Private Presentation to the Donors.

Here’s an opportunity not to be missed. What about staging a separate presentation of the Study Report just for the donors themselves?

You’ll find that the donors are quite curious about the results of the study. Moreover, they will actually show up at this presentation, because they’re intrigued. What’s best, is that they are starting to think about the possibilities of your campaign.

It’s a magic moment: there, in one room, are your potential lead donors, all discussing YOUR potential campaign with each other. What a special opportunity – all the VIP donors together, and you can just feel the energy.

It’s the ineffable power of “who is in the room.” Momentum for your campaign is growing, right before your eyes.

You will be there too, working the room, engaging with the donors to deepen your own personal relationships with these important philanthropists.

One-on-One Follow-up with Each Donor

We encourage our clients to personally call each donor who was interviewed.

Their job: thank the donor for participating, and ask the donor:

“What were your impressions of the feasibility study conversation?”

When you do this, you have a special opening to chat with your prospective donor about the entire campaign effort.

What will you get? Your donor will tell you what they think. Of your project. Of your campaign’s potential. About possible strategies to reach your goal.

They may share their own questions or concerns about your proposed campaign. The consultant interview prodded them to start thinking of all of this, and now you can pick up the momentum with the donor – and move things forward.

You can have a deep discovery call with the lead donors whose gifts can make or break your campaign. This strategy helps you gauge their enthusiasm –and find the pathway to a gift.

Using the Study to Literally Close Gifts 

As savvy consultants, we can gauge which donors are so enthusiastic that they might be ready for a Gift Conversation. So, at the end of a study, we identify those super engaged donors who seem ready to move right along.

Our clients are simply getting in touch with these donors, and asking the golden question:

“Is this a good time to discuss your support of our campaign?”

This simple question is literally causing donors to OFFER GIFTS without being asked.

We have one client who closed a six-figure gift the first time she asked this question. She was so floored that she phoned us immediately to celebrate.

Later she closed a gift in the mid-six figures. Without ever asking. With no formal ask.

This Golden Question is golden for many reasons:

  • It’s polite, because it asks for permission.
  • It’s donor-centered, because the donor feels in charge of the next step.
  • It’s not a pitch in any way, shape, or form.

The donor feels like they are a partner in the giving adventure, not the recipient of a carefully staged, awkward, scripted ask.

Bottom Line: You really can use an expert feasibility study to close major gifts.

We can help you with an expert feasibility study if you’d like. Just email us at gail.p@gailperry.com and we’ll talk about your campaign plans.

As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly insights with you as we cover important fundraising strategies. 

If your organization is planning a capital campaign or launching a major gifts program – we can help. Send an email to coaching@gailperry.com if you’d like to schedule a free strategy call with us.