“There was no feasibility study to make sure people were in favor of the project and willing to give.”
Glenn and Barbara Holliman have an excellent little book about capital funding in churches. With Generous Hearts is well worth your time to read before considering a campaign. I was struck by their introduction. There, they spell out everything they did wrong in a church capital campaign. The Feasibility Study mistake was second on their list.
A Feasibility Study Validates the Vision
Have you considered whether your members are ready to support a capital campaign? A feasibility study answers that question. Using both hard and soft data, an outside consultant gives advice as the whether the stated campaign objectives are feasible.
For example, a church may need to more clearly define its mission objectives. A pre-campaign feasibility study will build energy toward the success of the vision.
A Feasibility Study gathers data to determine campaign readiness. Information includes personal interviews with key staff and lay leaders. The consultant will also interview other church members who could have a significant impact on the campaign. Focus groups and surveys may also be used.
To conclude the study, your consultant will provide a final report. The report will summarize the interest and support of church members and friends. The report should:
- Suggest the church’s organizational readiness and willingness to support the vision,
- Benchmark possible financial commitments to the campaign as presented,
- Present modifications to the campaign suggested by church members, and,
- Provide recommendations for method, timing, and goals of the capital campaign.
A Feasibility Study becomes a way to test the waters of a vision and the campaign needed to support that vision. Discerning congregational support before a campaign saves many headaches and secures against missing the goal entirely.
Six Big Mistakes
As an added bonus this month, here are the Holliman’s list of the six big mistakes they made in that campaign:
We managed to do almost everything wrong in that campaign.
- A few of us made all the decisions and failed to share information adequately about the program with the rest of the congregation….
- There was no feasibility study to make sure people were in favor of the project and willing to give.
- There was no leadership evaluation to make suggestions as to what giving levels people should consider.
- There were no one-on-one calls….
- We failed to set deadlines.
- Of course, we never asked an experienced fund raising firm or development officer for counsel or advice.
Do Yourself a Favor – Plan
In conclusion, the Hollimans say they raised half of what the set out to raise and were forced to borrow the other half. Do yourself and your church a favor, plan for a Feasibility Study before you set out on the campaign.