If you anticipate conducting a pre-campaign planning study (or feasibility study), be sure to allow sufficient time for fundraising counsel to plan and lead your organization through an inclusive process. Counsel will need to prepare for and conduct the study interviews, then carefully analyze the data, and prepare and present the final report with insightful findings and action-oriented recommendations to the appropriate leadership. To complete all of the following steps, three months or more are typically required.
1. Plan the process. Senior management, trustees, and counsel meet to plan the study and assign responsibilities.
2. Preliminary case for support. Counsel conducts research and interviews in order to prepare a brief, but informative description of the organization and the proposed campaign objectives.
3. Prospective interviewees. Identify 70 to 100 individuals and organizations capable of making or influencing major gifts.
4. Schedule the interviews. A letter will be sent to each prospective interviewee, and appointments scheduled by phone.
5. Interview questionnaire. A customized questionnaire will guide the interview process.
6 . Table of standards. This table, which will be used during the interviews, indicates the size and number of gifts typically required to attain the proposed campaign goal.
7. Background information on the interviewees. Staff will be asked to provide pertinent background information on each individual to be interviewed.
8. Interviews. The interviews are conducted in confidence, and preferably in person. Most will be conducted one-on-one. In some cases (e.g., a husband and wife), two individuals will participate. A typical interview will require 45 minutes to an hour.
9. Report. Counsel prepares and submits a detailed written report. It should include the results of the interviews (including quotations without attribution); findings and conclusions; and recommendations.
10. In-person presentation. Counsel meets with the board and staff leadership to summarize the findings and recommendations, and discuss the next steps to be taken.
In many cases, the study will be accompanied by a strengths-based internal readiness assessment, which evaluates your organizational capacity to implement a major capital campaign, and recommends any additional resources which may be need to succeed.
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