chapter 28 Conducting Feasibility Studies

A feasibility study is a survey of people whose agreement and support you would need in order to succeed at a particular project, usually a large capital or endowment campaign of at least $1 million. Usually, prospective donors, board members, community leaders, and program officers at foundations and corporations who might be approached to contribute to such a project are asked to state anonymously what they think about it and what level of support they or their organization might provide. Generally, the survey is done in two or three parts: an online survey sent to all the prospects who will be asked for major gifts, a phone survey to a smaller number of donors who will probably be asked for lead gifts, and optional in-person interviews or a focus group with a handful of key leaders.


For prospects to feel that they can be completely honest and candid, their answers have to be truly anonymous. For that reason, most organizations hire a consultant to carry out a feasibility study. Maximum anonymity is ensured when people are asked by a consultant whom they don’t know to fill out a form sent by e-mail that does not call for them to include a name and address. Online surveys aggregate the data right away; by now, people are comfortable with them. Although some people might be completely candid without the shield of anonymity, human nature is such that, to spare someone’s feelings or to avoid a confrontation, ...

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