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Nonprofit Feasibility Studies

Most of the time when you hear the words “feasibility study” it is in relation to a capital campaign, endowment campaign or any other major fundraising opportunity. Mistakenly, however, people assume that this study is nothing more than a perfunctory punch list or a proverbial permission slip for the nonprofit to go out and raise money.

It is not a forgone conclusion that nonprofits can raise the money they need in a capital or other fundraising campaign. While there might be a legitimate need, this need is not always met with a strong enough case statement, effective leadership or community interest in raising money to make a campaign successful.

Many nonprofits need to do a lot of prep work prior to launching any fundraising event. This process may take months, and other times years, all depending on the level of effectiveness in which the nonprofit operates.

Real feasibility studies are not simply about the money!

One way to test the strength of your nonprofit is by using a free tool called the Perfection Quotient
. This tool measures your nonprofit organization’s strengths, weaknesses and overall health by identifying its performance according to The Perfect Nonprofit Model.

Honest feasibility studies are those that tell the truth and give your organization the information it needs. All nonprofits need to know the answer to questions like:

Does the community you serve know about your organization and your services?

Is your nonprofit really ready to raise money?

Is your cause supportable? Not all causes are!

The results from a feasibility study can tell your nonprofit if it is “ready” to raise moneybut it should also give you specific action steps you must take to improve your abilities and enhance your rate of success.

In general when a study is conducted a consultant will typically interview your staff, board members as well as top donors, prospective donors and community leaders. What makes the process work is that the consultant you select is someone from the outside that does not have any hidden agenda but is simply on a fact finding mission.

People are more apt to tell a stranger both the positive and negative aspects of your organization versus feeling comfortable discussing this openly with the executive director or even a board member they know well.

Many nonprofits mistakenly think that the consultant conducting the interview will in fact do “the ask” for you or “warm up” the prospective donor. Nothing is further from the truth! If you are hiring a consultant that claims he or she will do this for you then you are hiring the wrong individual and you are not getting a professional feasibility study.

Truthfully many nonprofits fail to hire a consultant because of several fear factors!

First, nonprofits worry it will cost too much. Secondly, nonprofits are worried that once they do in fact have a study done it will either not say what they hope for or it will contain information they are not sure what to do with.

Let me reassure you that most concerns can be mitigated once you locate a consultant that will take the time to understand your needs. Not all consultants will fit you or your nonprofit’s personality. Start by interviewing each prospect and let your gut instinct guide you to the perfect fit.

Once you hire a consulting firm to conduct this type of study they should provide you with not just factual information but also guide you to better prepare yourself to raise the money you need.

Donors are not ATMs and one visit from a stranger does not produce instant results!

While this might seem hard to believe, the truth of the matter is, the information received after a proper study is conducted can actually be more valuable than the money you receive and often is the first step at receiving an even bigger gift.

A feasibility study is an assessment tool and is not a reason to give!

Additional Information:
Fundraising Resources | Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

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