For the last 50-60 years, a Feasibility Study has been “required” before planning and/or implementing a Capital Campaign, and its basic concept and structure hasn’t changed in all that time. I contend that it’s more than obsolete, it’s counter-productive.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t first determine the feasibility of acquiring leadership for and attaining the goals of a major fund raising effort.
Of course we must interview prominent members of the community, prior donors and prospective leaders/example-setters. Of course we want to determine if success is likely, even probable. Of course we want to begin the education and cultivation of those who will be campaign leaders and major donors.
But feasibility studies are designed to ask interviewees if they think the goal is feasible, if they think there are any individuals who could lead a campaign to its goal, if the “community” will support the effort. A typical question is, “With your knowledge of the community, do you think/believe that ‘this’ goal can be achieved?”
If you’re asking people if they think you can succeed, you give them the impression that you might not. Why plant the seed of doubt? In fundraising, a “Study to determine Feasibility” is really bad psychology.
Never ask if an interviewee thinks the goal is attainable? Avoid asking “if,” but rather work to create the impression that success is a given. Get people to buy into that success, then you’re more likely to succeed.
What if the answer is “No”? Those questions raise issues you don’t want raised.
If you’re planning (even thinking about) a capital campaign, please, for the sake of your organization and that of your community, don’t do a Feasibility Study !!
Let’s do Planning Studies or Research Projects, but no more “Feasibility Studies.”
Coming soon, discussions of Study Interviews and Confidentiality, and The Planning Study As The Real Beginning of a Program/Activity/Fundraising Effort.
Have a question about starting or expanding your fundraising program?
Email me at AskHank@Major-Capital-Giving.com. With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, we’ll do our best to answer your question.