We are preparing to enter into a capital campaign for a Christian Camp. We do not have a budget for a feasibility study, but we do have some capable people. What resources or materials can you recommend for us to do a feasibility study ourselves?
I have two immediate/automatic reactions to that question:
1. Feasibility Studies are obsolete. What you should be doing is a Planning Study — see this
series of postings: Fundraising Planning
Not having money budgetted for a study should not keep you from looking for and finding someone or some corporation, foundation, church or church congregation to fund a study.
Then, in gratitude for that initial support, appropriate recognition could/should be given to that funding source(s).
When conducting the study, giving mention to the fact that a specific person, church or institution has already supported your project (by funding the study) adds credibility to the process.
2. As is most often, when organizations do their own pre-campaign studies, they don’t
know what information to seek and how to use what information they get; and, planning
a capital campaign based on faulty/inadequate/insufficient information is a formula for failure.
Fundraising consultants (the good ones) who work with clients to design and implement planning studies write the questions for each individual study after meeting with leaders of and learning as much as is reasonable about the non-profit. They don’t use all of the same questions for each client/situation. Questions must be designed to get interviewees thinking along specific lines.
Sure, there are some questions that could apply in many studies, but most of the questions for a study are/should be specific to that study.
A proper planning study is an investment in success. Identification (and the initial cultivation) of potential leaders and major donors and the setting of an attainable goal are the key results of a proper pre-campaign study … a study that will tell you whether or not you should be entering into a capital campaign, and suggesting what strategies and tactics would be most effective in-and-for each individual major-gift prospect and each distinct set of circumstances.
The only advice I can offer to an organization in the circumstances you describe is that if you’re going to do it, you should do it right. Doing it wrong gets very scary.
Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating or expanding your fundraising program? With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, I’ll be pleased to answer your questions. Contact me at AskHank@Major-Capital-Giving.com
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