How to Analyze the Results of your Nonprofit’s Feasibility Study

A feasibility study for your nonprofit project is like finding out — after talking to your parents, spouse, or the bank — how much you can afford to pay for a car. Your parents may say that they’ll give you money for a small sedan but not for a red sports car, and the same is true for a feasibility study.

Board members, community leaders, and potential donors may tell you that they would support the venture or endowment if it were smaller, or the building if it didn’t need a new foundation.

If the feasibility study suggests that you can raise more than you planned, you may consider increasing your capital campaign goal to include more scholarships or a cash reserve for building maintenance.

If the feasibility study suggests that you can’t afford a “Champagne” version of your plans, you may have to settle for a serviceable “house wine” edition. If your plans were already of the house-wine variety, you may want to break the campaign into phases.

If yours is a building project, over the first two years you can make major safety and structural changes or renovate one of several floors. Then maybe three or four years later you can launch the second phase of a capital campaign to cover the balance of the costs.

You may also find out that you need to wait. Perhaps your potential major donors recently gave to another campaign, and although they like your project, they aren’t currently in a position to make a major gift to your organization. You may be able to come back to them in two years and receive major contributions.

Or maybe potential donors voiced concerns about your organization. Perhaps you don’t have good records about past donors. Maybe your board has dwindled in size or your executive director just accepted another job. When you organize, recruit, and hire anew, your campaign can proceed.

And you may find out that undertaking the project isn’t a good idea at all. Period. At that point, it’s time to start over and plan to address your goals in a different way.

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