For decades, the old style capital campaign firms have insisted that all feasibility study interviews must be confidential.
The usual explanation for the need for “confidentiality” of the interview process was the assumption that interviewees would be more comfortable, more likely to express themselves fully and honestly if they knew that their comments (especially negative comments about others) would not be attributed to them in the “Report” to the non-profit organization!!
That might sound reasonable/logical if, at the same time, it wasn’t so unlikely that a non-profit organization would engage a firm to work with them on their campaign that was not the firm that did the Study.
Why would a non-profit organization want to hire a firm that didn’t have all that “confidential” information !!??
And, the corollary, why would the firm that did the study want to give all that “confidential” information to the non-profit !!?? In fact, why would all those capital campaign-counselling firms want to do “non-confidential” interviews??
I believe that “non-confidential” interviews are more honest and more comfortable. Many of my colleagues have discovered, not to our surprise, that even when we tell interviewees that we’ll be passing on their comments to the non-profit organization, they are still willing to be quite open and candid.
And, by the way, many major gift prospects have been major donors to, board members of and/or have been involved in the “study” process for other organizations. They know what’s happening. They know the purpose of the study, and how the information will be eventually be used. If you tell these sophisticated individuals about the “confidentiality” of the process, the only one you’re kidding is yourself.
Many capital campaign consultants still conduct “confidential interviews,” simply because “that’s they way it’s always been done.” Some, of course, still believe that that’s the way to lock the client in to a relationship.
The question that’s not being asked often enough: “What would be best for the non-profit organization?” What do you think?
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.