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Published December 3, 2017

Are Feasibility Studies Necessary or a Waste of Money?

Andrea Kihlstedt is an author of note and a brilliant speaker. She knows a thing or two about our work.

She wrote an article recently about feasibility studies. She asked the question— are feasibility studies necessary or a waste of money?

I am unequivocal on the subject. I know the answer. In a moment, I’ll tell you what I think. (You’ve probably guessed!)

But first let me tell you about the head of a fundraising firm she quotes. He says a feasibility study is absolutely unnecessary. Unnecessary!

His position is why would you talk to a donor about a hypothetical campaign with a hypothetical goal, and how much the donors would hypothetically give? (No question where he stands on the issue!)

I would say to any who question the value of a feasibility study, let’s pretend you are going to your doctor. Someone recommended him and it’s your first visit. You’re ready to sit down in the chair opposite him.

“Don’t bother sitting down,” the doctor says. “I’m going to rush you down to the surgical suite. I’ll call them and tell them to get ready for surgery. They’ll be waiting.”

“Do you mean you’re going to operate,” you ask. “You don’t know anything about me. Where’s the examination? The x-rays? The second opinions? How could you possibly know anything about me if you don’t probe, ask questions, and do an examination?”

Going into a campaign without a careful examination is comparable to rushing into surgery without a thorough probing and exploration.

If you do an effective feasibility study, you know everything possible to launch a highly successful campaign. You find out in advance all the vital elements you need to know regarding the major essential factors.

You learn you may have to take time to prepare for the campaign. Or in some cases, it may point out that you’re not ready at all— there’s a lot of work that needs to be done before you launch. Or hopefully, you’re ready to move forward immediately.

As Andrea points out, you wouldn’t dive into a pool without knowing the depth of the water. She writes, “If you’re considering a capital campaign, spend the time and the money to hire an experienced consultant to help you evaluate your chances of success. The stakes are too high to throw caution to the winds.”

There’s something else. The visit in the feasibility study is a powerful cultivation move. It comes early in the process. It sets the stage for the ask. If you want someone in on the landing, you should include them in the takeoff.

(By the way, you’ve probably guessed. Our firm conducts feasibility studies. Yes, I am biased.)

If you would like to read the deliverables you can expect as a result of an effective feasibility study, click here.

 

Weekly Ideas is a series of Philanthropy Counts(R)