A successful feasibility and planning study will educate potential donors about the impact of their philanthropic investments, provide recommended goals, reveal potential volunteer and financial prospects, and most importantly, tell you if your organization is ready to move forward with a major fundraising initiative. This information is essential to charting out your organization’s next steps.
If your organization has recently completed a feasibility and planning study, get ready – the work is not over! Whether you have decided to move forward into a campaign or take more time to think about your goals, there are several essential tasks to complete before wrapping up the study phase
- Update your study participants – even if there is no concrete update. Everyone you invited to participate in the study is expecting to hear the results. You don’t need to share your decision-making process with all participants, but do take the time to let them know that the study has come to a close, the objectives were met, and the organization is now thinking about next steps. Remind participants that they are important to the process and as “insiders” they will be kept in the loop.
- Remember to say thank you! This is perhaps the most important step. Remember that many people shared their time and advice during the study, most notably your Board members, donors, and other stakeholders. Even if you expressed gratitude to your participants throughout the study, take time at the close of the study to express it yet again. Also, don’t forget to thank all of the staff members who pitched in to make the study a success.
- Digest what you have learned. The study should have revealed valuable information about your organization, its readiness, and its fundraising potential. Take the time to think about these critical elements, ask questions, and gather more information if necessary. Pay attention to:
- Timing. Is now the right time for your organization to embark on a major initiative? What other calendar items should you consider such as annual meetings, membership drives, religious holidays, and other special events?
- Budget. A campaign will require its own budget apart from the development budget. Start to think about what you might need to be successful, including technology, marketing materials, and professional counsel.
- Staff. Is your team ready for a full-fledged fundraising campaign? Will you be able to successfully continue annual fund activities while taking on a campaign? Having the right people and enough of them in place will be essential for conducting a campaign.
- Gather your team. You now have some big questions to answer. Should you embark on a campaign? Do you first need to enhance your organization’s readiness for fundraising success? Immediately following the close of the study, gather your team of decision-makers—including the CEO, Development Director, and Board leadership—to start this conversation. If you used professional counsel to conduct your study, make sure you and your team fully understand the recommendations and how they will be implemented. The decision-making process won’t happen overnight, so it is best to start early and take advantage of the momentum you gained during the study.
The time period between a study and a campaign can range from a matter of weeks to over a year, depending on the study’s outcome and your organization’s readiness. The individuals you engaged in the study will expect something to happen, so make sure to communicate your plans and progress as appropriate. Regardless, view this time as the beginning of an exciting new chapter for your organization. Take the time to digest the information you learned in the study, thank those involved, and then begin creating a plan.
If you’ve recently completed a feasibility study, what other immediate next steps do you recommend?
About the Author
Eliza is an Assistant Vice President on the CCS Mid-Atlantic team.