"Philanthropy is not about the money. It's about using whatever resources you have at your fingertips and applying them to improving the world.”
The Feasibility Trap!
Is a feasibility study a necessary and vital step prior to a capital campaign? Well, if you ask most consulting companies eager to collect $20,000-$30,000 they will probably say yes. But the reality is that in recent years feasibility studies have become one of the greatest wastes of non-profit resources (a bit like unnecessary medical tests or the car part your mechanic replaced that was actually working fine - harmful, no... wasteful, absolutely). Surprised to hear this? Sound controversial? Well the truth will set you free!
The fact is sometime in the 1950's the notion of a feasibility study took on a certain allure. Not only was it considered wise planning but for the times it made perfect sense. Who knew whether people would respond to a community drive? Getting out and talking to people prior to asking was a novel and valid concept. Campaigns and studies "was like peas and carrots."
But as we all know, the fundraising landscape has undergone dramatic change over the past half century - for the donor, the organization and its staff. Yet the feasibility study process has remained virtually unchanged for over 50 years - same questions, same process and the same reports (whose findings are predictable before the first interview ever takes place). Do you want to know a secret? The "evaluation and recommendation" sections of the study reports prepared by most firms are almost identical from client to client. How do we know this? Because back in the 20th century we unwittingly participated in this antiquated process ourselves. Many firms continue the practice today simply because it's a relatively easy way to get their foot in the door with you and collect a large fee, regardless of whether the process serves your needs (and is worth your investment). Or perhaps change comes slow for some or it's just easier to do what they’ve always done.
What was a helpful planning tool into the 1980's has far outlived its usefulness. The reasons are many: better trained and equipped development professionals; experienced non-profit executives; boards that are educated and engaged; a proliferation of fundraising campaigns - you could add to the list ad infinitum!
At PCW, we believe there is a far more effective and financially prudent way to accomplish advance planning for your capital campaign. Since the mid-1990's we have been utilizing a unique "Planning/Action" approach for campaign preparation. Some of the benefits are as follows:
These are just a few of the reasons you should consider taking a closer look at PCW before you invest thousands of your donated funds in a feasibility study, the great dinosaur of our industry. We invite you to consider PCW’s free Campaign Readiness Assessment (described below) or contact us to learn more about our progressive, 21st century approach to campaign planning.
A Free Service from the Partners of Philanthropic Consultants Worldwide
The Partners of PCW have been conducting capital campaigns for over 40 years. If you are considering a capital campaign you might be weighing the cost/benefit of investing in an expensive feasibility study—a process which is no longer the only way to prepare for a campaign. Perhaps there is uncertainty among your Board of Staff regarding your readiness to embark upon a major capital initiative. For this reason, we offer non-profits a free Campaign Readiness Assessment as a vital tool in determining the best course of action.
How Does It Work?
Topics covered during the consultation will include:
If you are considering a major capital campaign, we welcome the opportunity to share our experience in helping you determine a sound and efficient game plan. For more information, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Another Free Service from PCW
PCA is always looking to help non-profits expand their philanthropic horizons. At times, the process of planning and preparing for a major capital campaign can be overwhelming as well as confusing. Advice from friends and associates can be helpful; consulting firms are anxious to sell you their services; and money is being raised in the community while you wait or consider your options.
Our Capital Campaign Workshop can remove some of the mystery and apprehension that goes along with the decision to embark upon a major funding initiative.
Here is a summary of how it works:
Topics included in the workshop are:
The Workshop presenter will be one of PCW’s Senior Partners with a minimum of 20 years hands-on capital campaign experience.
Did you know that almost 50% of the fees charged by most consulting companies can be attributed directly to overhead and travel? That is why PCW was established around a regional structure that allows us to minimize travel and pass these savings on to our clients.
Today we have taken this concept a step further. Modern communication tools continue to shrink the world in which we live. Tele & Video conference are no longer solutions to scheduling problems - they make sense! The internet and all its related technology can, at times, make "being there" an unnecessary luxury. Or it may be just what an organization needs to live within the limits of its budget. As part of our ongoing effort to remain on the cutting edge of service to non-profits, we opened the door several years ago to Virtual Consulting Services. This was an intentional effort to respond to four situations or challenges within the non-profit community:
- Non-profits in remote areas are often hard-pressed to attract quality fundraising counsel at a reasonable cost.
- Some institutional staff need only minimal assistance yet most firms sell "all or nothing" services. These organizations want and need a measure of guidance and support but not at the high-priced monthly fee structures that have become quite commonplace.
- Technology has brought us closer to our worldwide partners. Virtual consulting allows PCW to share its expertise around the globe and learn from the experiences of non-profits across the international landscape.
- Finally, there are many organizations that could make excellent use of counsel's presence during a campaign's early stages but believe they are well equipped to finish the job with only periodic off-site coaching.
Virtual Consulting Services enable PCW to design a service plan that is truly responsive to the needs of these organizations. Our virtual services include a creative mix of the following:
Whether you are looking to build your entire mode of service around a virtual model or are looking for experienced remote counsel at a reasonable cost, contact PCW and we will be pleased to tailor a plan of service the fits your needs.