In this 2nd of four related posts, I’d like to share my experience to help you explore whether an alternative to the traditional counsel-led feasibility study offers you the right kind of benefits.
There are numerous ways that conducting a staff-led feasibility study can benefit your organization.
- It strengthens donor relationships with staff by using targeted conversations.
- Donors feel better knowing the conversations are about them first, rather than simply about their money (a huge benefit for a principles-based fundraising philosophy).
- Staff members gain experience asking sensitive questions about personal giving and interests.
- Interviews conducted by staff allow the organization to obtain valuable donor/prospect information that can be imported directly into database management software without being filtered (or lost!) by the consultant. Some consultants prefer to treat the entire interview as confidential, in part to retain information that subsequently makes the consultant more valuable to the client in providing campaign counsel. Said another way, the consultants who conducted the study must be retained in order to find out what your donors think and feel about the project.
- Consultants must often designate their availability so as to accommodate other clients, thereby reducing scheduling flexibility with donors. A staff-led interview process allows for greater scheduling flexibility for completing interviews.
- Depending upon the size of staff and the interviewing team, this approach may field multiple interviewers to gain multiple perspectives.
- Staff members feel a greater sense of ownership of the information, having harvested it in real time as opposed to simply receiving aggregate information in a report.
- Conducting a study with one’s own staff is a sign of growing professional maturity and experience, thereby increasing staff credibility among internal constituents.
- Given the competitive world of attracting and retaining professional development staff, such a staff-led effort builds valuable career experience, thereby helping to retain gifted staff.
- Finally, this approach may save money in consulting fees, making this savings available for other budgetary needs, such as prospect research, cultivation costs, publications, etc.