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What is a Feasibility Study

The main purpose of a Feasibility Study is to provide an accurate assessment of the factors, which might affect a campaign, and to evaluate both internal readiness and external opportunities available to successfully complete a large-scale capital campaign.

Definition

A Feasibility Study is conducted through personal interviews with a carefully selected cross-section of Board members, staff, industry, community leaders, alumni, friends, and others.

Objectives

Following consultation with an institution's leadership, objectives of a Feasibility Study will be defined for use in developing the study instrument. In addition to specific objectives addressing the organization's unique issues, the study will:

  • Educate potential donors
  • Identify campaign leadership
  • Identify potential donors and their giving levels
  • Gather information critical to campaign success in an objective manner
  • Assess your organization's existing development capabilities and readiness for a campaign

Process

A Feasibility Study has four well-defined stages:

  • Preparation
  • Interviews
  • Analysis and Correlation of Study Findings
  • Formulation of Feasibility Study Recommendations

Campaign decisions are based upon accurate conclusions gathered from the Feasibility Study. Therefore, each step is vital.

Preparation: Preliminary planning is critical to the soundness of the Feasibility Study and the smooth execution of interviews. The following need to be undertaken thoroughly, prior to interviews:

  • Define Feasibility Study objectives based on specifics rather than generalities.
  • Develop a case statement defining your organization's campaign needs and opportunities.
  • Conduct a Campaign Readiness Assessment to determine the organization's status as to development activities, past and present.
  • Develop criteria for potential interviewees: Those who have the knowledge, the motivation, the affluence, or the influence to provide accurate information. Interviewees should represent your organization's Board members and major donors; political leaders; civic leaders; alumni; business and industry leaders (particularly those in real estate); key executive staff members of your organization; etc.
  • Elicit the assistance of your organization's staff and Board members to develop a list of 200 potential interviewees needed to schedule the 100 interviews.
  • Develop a Feasibility Study questionnaire to provide the necessary information for use in the interviews.
  • Prepare an introductory letter to the interviewees, accompanied by your organization's promotional materials, requesting their participation in the Feasibility Study.
  • Schedule appointments for interviews and prepare background information on each interviewee, to be reviewed by the JFSG interviewer prior to the Feasibility Study interview visit.

Interviews: To reach a valid conclusion, a Feasibility Study for a potential $1 million campaign, for example, will require interviewing 100 individuals. All interviews will be confidential and conducted in person. Only under special circumstances will the J.F. Smith Group interview a prospective donor by telephone. Four to five interviews per day will be conducted, depending upon the geographic location of interviewees. All questionnaires will remain in the possession of the J.F. Smith Group. Any quotes or paraphrases used in the Feasibility Study will not be attributed. Each interview will take approximately one hour. Thank you letters, generated by your organization's coordinator, will follow each completed interview.

Analysis and Correlation of Study Findings: While an effort is made to quantify answers to each question, the interview process cannot be reduced to numbers alone. The J.F. Smith Group's significant experience and the perceptions of its professionals make the difference in analyzing the data to produce valid findings.

Formulation of Feasibility Study Recommendations: Using the analysis and correlation of study findings, coupled with sound fund-raising concepts and practices, JFSG will provide appropriate recommendations for your organization's consideration.