Typically I am the one completing a campaign feasibility study. It’s
- Exciting and rewarding to assist with writing or honing a case statement.
- Interesting to speak with campaign committee members about who might be invited to be interviewed.
- A privilege to meet with participants and to hear their thoughts about the case, the organization and its leadership, and their potential willingness and ability of participants to support a campaign.
- For me, enjoyable to analyze the data gathered and to write and present the final report.
That said I recently served on a volunteer committee for a nonprofit which decided to hire a consultant to complete a capital campaign feasibility study. While the nonprofit has existed and flourished for decades and had successful mini-campaigns, it never considered having a formal, capital campaign. It has been interesting look from the inside out as we considered whether to work with, then hired a consultant.
It was instructive to take part in interviewing consultants and to hear the perspectives of my fellow committee members as we selected chose a finalist. What’s more, it has been quite interesting to observe how another consultant approaches such a study and to be among those interviewed.
What are some lessons that I learned looking from the inside out?
- Have a strong case, even if it’s not fully formed or written before you go to market for a consultant. You will save a great deal of time, and potentially financial resources if you have at least a clear understanding of the project or program scope, who will be served, how the funds will make a difference and a ballpark amount that you seek to raise.
- Do check credentials but also consider fit. There are a great number of us who complete feasibility studies but I am reminded of that old Kenny Rogers song in which he says, “there is someone for everyone and Tommy’s love was Becky.” Be sure that you find your Becky (or Tommy) and that their approach is a fit with the culture and ethos of your organization and prospective donors.
- Consider cost but don’t make it the driving factor in your decision making. Some consultants are willing to negotiate. As well you may be surprised to discover that some donors may be willing to help pay the consultant’s fee.
- Be prepared to work in collaboration with the consultant. Remember this person is coming from outside, they are learning about your organization, your goals and aspirations, and your donors. They are going to rely on you to help them understand the case, select people to participate in the interviews, make appointments, etc.
- Think about with whom, when and how you will share the study results. We had a significant amount of conversation about this after hearing the consultant’s report.
Know that there are many top-notch professionals who can assist, such as Jay Frost (from Brian Lacey and Associates), who was the consultant in this case. Jay brought tremendous insight, care, and commitment to the process. At the same time while deeply committed, as Quakers would say, he released the report to the meeting, allowing the group to determine what to do with the information he discovered.
Want to know more about feasibility studies? You can contact me here or send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you and promise that my goal is to answer your questions or hear your thoughts, not to make a sale.