A Feasibility Study is the first impression many donors will have about your capital campaign. I’ve met people who, rather than hiring a consultant, sent a staff member, board member, or some volunteer to conduct the study. While it may look like a money saver, there are three big reasons you should hire a consultant to do your study:
1. You’re Spread Thinner Than Butter on Bread
A typical study includes between twenty-five and fifty hours of interviews with prospective donors who have the potential to give a Top 25 gift. But that’s just the interviews. A study also includes developing a good list of interviewees, setting up interviews, travel time, follow-ups, and analyzing the data to develop sound recommendations. Considering most nonprofits are strapped to the limit, who will be able to devote this amount of time? Your organization needs to focus on what’s important and know when to delegate projects. A study is a good thing to delegate.
2. CliffsNotes for Campaign Studies?
Even if you find a volunteer who has the time to do the campaign study, you don’t want them consulting “Campaign Studies for Dummies” for your multi-million dollar campaign. You want a professional who can ask challenging, personal questions in a gracious and comfortable way. You also want to “wow” the important prospective donors during the interview and instill confidence in your community leaders. Mistakes can be costly. A study done by an experienced professional will set your campaign up for success.
3. Your Appointment with Pinocchio
Okay I’m going to say it… donors lie. I know that sounds harsh. And maybe it’s not really a lie because really they are just trying to be nice. But the truth is it can be really hard for a donor to say to a staff or board member that they have little confidence in the agency’s leadership or are still upset about the way the controversy from ten years ago was handled. So, they’ll give you a more optimistic view of your organization instead of what they really think. Whether or not your donor’s concern is based on reality doesn’t really matter.
With an outside consultant who comes with a promise of confidentiality, watch the donors open up! They will express concerns they wouldn’t have admitted to you. And they might also share good things they were too shy to tell you. You won’t get a realistic view of your community climate without an impartial, external interviewer.
Yes, hiring a competent consultant for your planning study costs money, but it is a wise investment. It will open doors you didn’t know existed and propel your campaign forward. Good first impressions are always good.
Ready for your campaign? Dickerson-Bakker can help you make a killer first impression. Contact us today about our campaign study.