4 Steps To Conducting Your Own Fundraising Feasibility Study

Launching a major fundraising campaign takes time and energy. A feasibility study can help ensure it’s the right move for your organization before you start.


Is your nonprofit planning a major fundraising campaign but not sure where to start? The first step for many nonprofits is to conduct a feasibility study. This in-depth, objective assessment of your organization and support base helps you determine whether your plans for a major fundraiser, like a capital campaign, are feasible or need to be adjusted.

While these studies aren’t always a must-have, they can be invaluable for setting your nonprofit up for success and fine-tuning your plans before you dive into a capital campaign. We’ll explore everything you need to know to conduct your own.

Capital campaigns can feel daunting, especially if you’ve never launched one before, but don’t let that intimidate you. With the right preparation and support, any nonprofit can launch a successful campaign to get the funds they need.

What are the benefits of a DIY fundraising feasibility study?

Traditionally, nonprofits hire third-party consultants to conduct their feasibility studies. However, if you don’t have room in your budget to hire a consultant, you may choose to perform your own DIY assessment instead.

DIY feasibility studies may have slightly biased results because you’re interviewing supporters yourself rather than getting an objective, outside perspective. The upside is you’ll make your lead donors feel involved and invested from the very start because you’re using their direct input to help shape your plans. Plus, they’ll be excited about your campaign, helping you generate buy-in from key supporters early on!

    1. Use prospect research to identify key donors.

    The main goal of a feasibility study is to help your nonprofit evaluate your fundraising goals and make a plan to refine them. This will largely depend on the support of your major donors and other key supporters, so identifying these donors should be your first step.

    Start by looking into board members, existing major donors, and long-time supporters. Prioritize those with the greatest likelihood of giving a major gift by searching your donor database for the following markers:

    • Capacity markers: These are indications that a prospect has the financial capacity to donate a large gift and might include real estate ownership, business ownership, or a high-income career.
    • Affinity markers: Make sure supporters have demonstrated a passion for your cause by looking at past donations and involvement, connections with other donors or board members, or relevant political affiliations.
    • Propensity markers: Propensity, or habit, markers show that a prospect has a habit of donating to charities often. Pay attention to past donations to your nonprofit, board service, and involvement with similar organizations.

    Then, do more extensive research to make sure these donors have markers in every category before you decide to cultivate that relationship. Working with a consultant gives you access to wealth screenings and comprehensive databases, but you can do plenty of research on your own using free tools like Google and public records. DonorSearch’s list of prospect research tools includes several free options your team can explore if you’re not sure where to start.

    2. Draft a case statement.

    Next, create a document that outlines the objectives and working goal of your planned campaign and why donors should support it—this is known as a case statement or a case for support.

    It’s important to draft a case statement early on in the campaign planning process so you can provide prospective donors with an accurate idea of the campaign before asking for their opinions. This document will also keep your campaign grounded as changes arise and help you convince key supporters to get on board.

    According to Donorly’s fundraising feasibility study guide, your case for support should include four main elements:

    1. Your nonprofit’s story, mission, and goals.
    2. Details about the project and what it will help you achieve.
    3. An initial budget and timeline for the project.
    4. Why donors should give their support.

    It’s okay for this document to change over time as you update your plan, but it should serve as a general guide that keeps you on track throughout the process. Spend some time polishing it before you send it to any supporters to make sure you present your campaign in the best light.

    3. Conduct feasibility study interviews.

    Once you’ve solidified your case statement, send it to the key supporters you selected and schedule one-on-one feasibility study interviews. In these interviews, you’ll ask donors about their views on the campaign and their prospective support to see if you have enough people on board with your working plans and goals. You might ask questions like:

    • What excites you about our nonprofit’s mission and vision?
    • What would you say are our organization’s biggest strengths and challenges?
    • Do you think now is the right time to move forward with this campaign?
    • What are your personal philanthropic priorities?
    • Can you see yourself contributing to this campaign?

    Ideally, you should conduct these interviews in person or over video chat to get the most genuine answers and deepen relationships at the same time. Make sure to record supporters’ answers so you can revisit them and share them with your campaign planning committee.

    4. Analyze your DIY feasibility study results.

    Finally, the last step is to use the information gathered from the interview process to determine your level of likely support for the campaign plans and goals in their current state.

    Analyze supporters’ responses to gauge their interest levels, then create a board report to discuss your findings with board members. Your board members must be on board with the campaign for you to move forward, so be prepared to adjust your plans based on the study’s results and their feedback.

    Your feasibility study’s results should help you determine your next steps by bringing any concerns to your attention. For example, if your study indicates that you’re lacking support from major donors, you may need to spend some time doing more prospect research or updating your stewardship strategy. Make any necessary changes to put your organization in a better position to succeed. Then, when you’re ready, you can move on to making your campaign plan!

    Smaller nonprofits run successful capital campaigns all the time—all it takes is a dedicated team, the right amount of planning and research, and a loyal support base. However, even if you conduct a DIY feasibility study, it’s still common to seek outside help for your campaign strategy, fundraising training, or general capital campaign advising. Make sure you understand your needs and budget early on so you can account for any extra support you need.

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Featured Photo: Die Arche - Leipzig by Die Arche Kinderstiftung Christliches Kinder- und Jugendwerk
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