I often get asked by nonprofit leaders and Board members if they truly need to do a feasibility study before initiating a capital campaign. The answer: not always. I can think of plenty of examples where nonprofits don’t need a study to determine whether or not the time is right to raise money. One example: MRC Industries in Kalamazoo. Several years ago, after intense fall rains, the Kalamazoo River rose and flooded MRC’s workshop facility. The photos told the story, most of MRC’s building was under 4 feet of water, compromising their mission to serve the disabled. Clearly, they had an emergency and needed an immediate campaign to raise funds for a new home. No sense in conducting a study in this case.
However, most nonprofits aren’t in “emergency” mode and should consider a study. A study helps identify potential lead gifts, leadership candidates for the campaign, potential road blocks to success, and gives an organization’s leadership important feedback on the project and plan in question. Many times, feasibility studies lead to better projects that will garner more community support than would have been the case with the initial plan.
Talk to nonprofit leaders who have gone through feasibility studies and I think you’ll find that there is incredible value in taking this careful planning step.