Over the years I’ve collaborated with a number of consultants and a colleague shared the quote from the title of this blog. His firm does only two things — feasibility studies and capital campaign management. If the feasibility study is a “no go” then they don’t move on to a fundraising campaign. Some people question the usefulness of a feasibility study and its objectiveness. Others question whether it is needed at all. There isn’t a definitive answer because it depends on a number of factors. We’ve never used the feasibility study to pinpoint a campaign goal but more to look at the internal and external readiness to do a campaign.
In the “old days” you would hire a consultant to do the interviews in a feasibility study. The reason for this was that there weren’t as many sophisticated fundraisers as there are now. We’ve suggested to a number of clients that they use development staff to go out into the community to get the information from these interviews. This allows them to hear what the constituent base and community leaders are saying. There are times that a neutral third party is helpful, but the results are oftentimes the same in terms of input.
Why is this relevant? You have to go out and listen to what the donors and potential donors are saying. You’ve probably heard it said that if you ask for money you get advice, and if you ask for advice you get money. This is a great opportunity to talk about what the vision or priorities are for your organization and get their input. Ask questions such as “do our plans resonate with you?” — “what do you see as the organization’s strengths?” — “are our goals attainable in this community?” — and “would you play a role in our next campaign?” And back to the quote — if your donor base gives you input and you incorporate what they’ve shared with you as what is important then they have a greater likelihood of supporting you. In other words, if they feel it was their idea then they probably will support it.
When is the last time you had conversations with a number of donors or potential donors to get input on your set of priorities? It’s a good idea to go on a listening tour every once in a while to keep a pulse on what your donors and potential donors think are worthy of their support.
“Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”
Written by: Paul D’Alessandro
Founder and Chairman