Why your capital campaign feasibility study could be leaving a lot of money on the table.

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Greg Warner is CEO and Founder of MarketSmart, a revolutionary marketing software and services firm that helps nonprofits raise more for less. In 2012 Greg coined the phrase “Engagement Fundraising” to encapsulate his breakthrough fundraising formula for achieving extraordinary results. Using their own innovative strategies and technologies, MarketSmart helps fundraisers around the world zero in on the donors most ready to support their organizations and institutions with major and legacy gifts.

I think most campaign feasibility studies leave a ton of money on the table.

Here’s a hyper-simplified description of how it usually works. You hire a consultant. Together, you conduct the feasibility study and review the results. Then, you make a decision on whether or not to go forward with the campaign.

So what then? What about the supporters who helped you come to that conclusion?

 

Prior to conducting the study, did you prepare a plan to give to them after they helped you?

After all, they gave you their time (often their most precious commodity) and their guidance?

 

If not, you might have missed a huge opportunity.

I guess what I’m saying is that too often feasibility studies are conducted with a ‘taking’ mentality. Sure, your organization needs to determine whether or not to go for it. But isn’t that lopsided?

To me, it seems like the organization gets what it wants while the supporters get left wondering, “What happened? What did they do with the information I gave them?”

 

Think of it this way.

If someone asked you for advice, wouldn’t you wonder if they took it or not? And, wouldn’t you want to feel appreciated for having provided your counsel in the first place, no matter whether they took your advice or not?

I think that’s how your supporters feel too. And I think this is where the missed opportunity rests.

In fact, I believe failing to communicate with your supporters after the study is completed (using the information they shared with you about their needs and interests) could even leave problems in the wake of your feasibility study efforts.

 

Every touch counts!

Remember that every ‘touch’ with a supporter has the potential to enhance or diminish the relationship.

With that in mind, try thinking about the feasibility study survey as more than just a single ‘touch’ with which your supporters will engage. Rather, think of it as yet another meaningful experience with which your supporters will involve themselves as they consider whether or not to give, stop giving, give more, or leave a legacy gift.

 

So here’s my recommendation.

Change your mindset and prepare a communications plan so it’s ready to launch after the conclusion of your feasibility study. Reach out to your top-tier supporters and anyone else who might have taken a survey or contributed to your organization’s decision-making process.

Consider including a way to share the results of the feasibility study survey in your plan. That way, your supporters will feel more included and part of your community.

In other words, use your capital campaign feasibility study for more than just determining whether or not to go ahead with the campaign. Use it to also create highly relevant, personalized cultivation and stewardship communications that will help to deepen your relationship with your supporters over time.

 

Remember, the donor journey is a marathon not a sprint.

Each touch counts! That’s why, at MarketSmart, our customers leverage our technologies and strategies to send those who participated in a feasibility study a Survey Report (at the very least). They use other marketing efforts we supply too. But let’s stick with the Survey Report for now so we’re not here all day.

Survey Reports are super-powerful communications tools because they make sure your supporters don’t feel abandoned. Instead they feel included and involved…. loved!

When done right, these reports influence giving decisions in your favor as a result of social norms (unwritten ‘rules’ that help people decide how to behave). Make no mistake, gentle social pressure can be a very powerful influencer.

 

Here’s an example of social norms.

If some of the questions in your feasibility study survey asked your supporters about whether or not they would consider giving certain kinds of assets, supporting certain initiatives, or making a legacy gift, then you could include charts in your Survey Report showing precisely how many said “Yes” to each.

As a result, those reading the report (which can be provided to anyone who took the survey or others including Facebook ‘likes,’ non-donors, etc.) will likely begin to consider those same kinds of gifts or initiatives.

 

The trick is to provide value. 

Remember, thanks to your feasibility study survey, it is likely that you captured amazing information points about each donor’s story such as the reason for their passion (why they care), their interests (what they might want to support), and their giving temptations (how they might want to support the mission).

You can prove that you listened by responding in kind. Doing so will give your supporters value in ways that align with what they told you about themselves.

 

Just remember to be polite, persistent, and relevant.

Following up by sending just one Survey Report won’t necessarily be enough to spur massive giving. That’s why we also recommend a gentle ‘drip-drip-drip’ communications stream that provides value in line with interests over time. Doing so will reinforce their trust in you and your organization. Trust is essential if you want them to move themselves forward through the consideration process.

Plus, if you add a little bit of technology that tracks each donor’s digital body language and marries it with their verbatims from the survey, you’ll begin to see precisely when the time is right for outreach. 

 

It works!

So why not think about your capital campaign feasibility study from your donor’s perspective? See it as a touchpoint along their decision-making journey and not as just a one-shot engagement. Then you will be exponentially more likely to scoop up money that would have otherwise been left sitting on the table.

 

What do you think?

Have you planned to maximize the value you gain from the information you gather from your feasibility study?

If not, and if you want to see one of our Survey Report Efforts, just contact us here.

 

MORE ON CAPITAL CAMPAIGNS CAN BE FOUND HERE:

 

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