How to Advise Nonprofits Conducting Feasibility Studies

If your nonprofit client is conducting a feasibility study, that means they’re on the verge of launching a large campaign.

These nonprofits may be conducting a capital campaign or seeking to grow their endowment. A feasibility study will help them determine whether the campaign is possible and how it will be accomplished.

This is where providers come in. Nonprofit providers offer the online fundraising software and tools and resources that can help nonprofits conduct their feasibility studies and more easily accomplish their campaign goals. To do so, you must be prepared to answer the questions and offer the support that your nonprofit clients need.

Let's discuss the necessary information that nonprofit software providers should know about nonprofit feasibility studies.

1. Understand how feasibility studies work

Before you can advise nonprofits who are conducting feasibility studies, it’s important to understand exactly how they work.

In short, a feasibility study works like this:

A. The nonprofit hires a fundraising consultant to act as a third-party representative for the organization.

B. The consultant and the nonprofit develop a test case for support that outlines why a donor should support the project.

C. The nonprofit sends the case for support and an invitation to participate in a feasibility study interview to 20-40 stakeholders in the organization.

D. The consultant conducts the interviews to determine stakeholders’ reactions to the case for support and perceptions of the nonprofit’s reputation.

E. Based on feedback from the interviews, the consultant will draft a report of their findings as well as their advisement for how the project should proceed.

F. The nonprofit presents the findings to the board.

The purpose of a feasibility study is to determine whether a nonprofit’s constituents will support the project and how the project would be completed.

As such, your software can be instrumental in choosing the most impactful stakeholders to interview, in facilitating communications, and in tracking important fundraising data.

After all, nonprofits use software to conduct their operations, and a feasibility study is a means of evaluating how effective and efficient a nonprofit's infrastructure is.

For example, payment processing is essential for nonprofits to accept online donations, and any online fundraising platform will require this feature. A feasibility study can determine whether donors feel secure giving online payments. Providers can be instrumental in reassuring donors (and the nonprofit!) that donations will be secured.

These small but vital details will need to be ironed out in the study before a large campaign launches; be ready to offer your support as necessary.

2. Acknowledge the benefits of a feasibility study

A feasibility study is more than a means of gaining results (though many nonprofits and providers are under the common misconception that feasibility studies are limited in this way). Many nonprofits use feasibility studies to strengthen relationships with donors and organizational leaders.

After all, a feasibility study is a chance for nonprofits to ask key contributors for their direct thoughts and opinions. Nonprofit supporters are often honored to have their voices heard in such a prominent way. And if the nonprofit takes their supporters’ feedback seriously, then they’re actively showing how much they value what their supporters have to say.

It’s important to recognize this tangential benefit to a nonprofit’s feasibility study. Any cultivation tools that you provide to your clients can be of use here, including:

  • Calendars or scheduling features
  • Segmented communications tools
  • Donor profiles
  • Analytics and data reports

When you truly understand your nonprofits’ needs, you can more effectively advise them on how to use your software to their advantage. As such, acknowledging the use of feasibility studies as a tool for donor cultivation can help you more intentionally support your clients.

CRM software, for example, has great value in carefully scheduling feasibility study interviews so that they align with a donor's stewardship calendar. Using the interview as a means of thanking a donor for their continued support of a nonprofit can help nonprofits accomplish two tasks in one!

3. Know the key players in a feasibility study

Another important aspect of a feasibility study are the people who will be interviewed. If you can anticipate the various groups that a nonprofit will reach out to, you can better tailor your advisement and emphasize the strengths of your software.

Typically, nonprofits reach out to:

  • Current major and planned gift donors
  • Former major donors
  • Key volunteers in leadership positions
  • Businesses and vendors
  • Community leaders
  • Board members
  • Students, grateful patients, or other recipients of a nonprofit’s services

How can this information be beneficial to your organization?

Let’s take a look at an example! Nonprofits who are conducting feasibility studies often reach out to business owners and vendors. If you provide matching gift software, you have a huge wealth of resources that can help a nonprofit identify the vendors who are most likely to support the campaign.

It's also important to recognize that you may be working with the fundraising consultant who will conduct the feasibility study. Since this advisor will be helping a nonprofit determine the best course of action for their project, it's important to be candid about what your services can do.

If you have an easy working relationship with both the nonprofit and the consultant, then you're more likely to maintain a contract long-term.

4. Offer fundraising solutions based on the study's results

The most important role that nonprofit software providers will fill is offering the solutions nonprofits need to complete their project.

Whether you're servicing a current client, or whether a new nonprofit is reaching out to you to help them accomplish their campaign, you can use what you know about feasibility studies to provide the most helpful support.

Specifically, a nonprofit feasibility study will reveal:

  • The campaign's fundraising goal
  • The route the nonprofit will take to achieve that goal
  • A gift range chart that breaks down the fundraising goal into more manageable donations
  • Insight into the campaign's leadership team
  • Infrastructural problems that need to be resolved
  • A projected timeline and campaign budget
  • The revised case for support
  • The effectiveness of their fundraising strategy

As such, nonprofit providers can help organizations capitalize on this information.

After all, knowing the details of a campaign is only one part of actually enacting it. Nonprofits will need the right software and online tools to plan the campaign and get it off the ground.

Nonprofit software providers allow organizations to complete the most fundamental aspects of their mission. For example, without credit card processing, nonprofits couldn't even accept online donations!

Likewise, any provider has a unique solution that can help nonprofits accomplish their larger campaign goals. By understanding feasibility studies, providers are better equipped to communicate with nonprofits about comprehensive solutions to complex campaigns.

5. Provide ongoing support following the feasibility study

A nonprofit feasibility study indicates that a nonprofit is evaluating their current fundraising strategy and embarking on a project that will require extensive support.

Following a feasibility study, many nonprofits will receive intel on aspects of their fundraising strategy that fall short or larger internal challenges. 

As such, a nonprofit provider will need to do more than offer a solution to completing a successful campaign. Nonprofits will look to providers to help them solve infrastructural challenges.

This means that providers will often be giving ongoing support that transcends the scope of the proposed project. This is especially true if the feasibility study determines that a campaign is not feasible. In this case, nonprofits must work to solve the problems that have prevented the campaign's fruition.

Thus, nonprofit providers should anticipate that their solutions must be scalable and may need to develop with a nonprofit's fundraising strategy.

For example, if a feasibility study determines that a nonprofit's online fundraising is incredibly limited, providers should expect that a nonprofit will want to make changes to their current online fundraising strategy, even if online fundraising is not an integral aspect of the campaign in question.

So, when providers are advising nonprofits who are completing feasibility studies, it's important to emphasize the flexibility and growth of your services because it's likely that a nonprofit's strategy will change and develop following the study.

And this is a good thing! The more effectively a nonprofit can use your services, the more likely they'll be to retain the partnership!

A nonprofit feasibility study can mean a lot of things for the organizations who support and provide services for philanthropic organizations.

Understanding how providers can fit into a nonprofit's feasibility study is important for contributing the most valuable advice.

Additional Resources

  • Double the Donation's Steps to Conducting a Feasibility Study - Are you still a little lost on how nonprofits conduct feasibility studies? Learn more with this comprehensive article from Double the Donation! 
  • Accepting Online Donations Guide - Understand everything you need to know about how nonprofits accept online donations. The better you understand online fundraising, the better you can advise nonprofits!
  • ACH Direct Deposit Guide - Accepting direct deposit donations is essential to retaining donors long-term. Nonprofits need a loyal, recurring donor base to conduct their feasibility studies, so learn more here!

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