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Is a Philanthropic Planning (Feasibility) Study a Good Idea?

Periodically, nonprofit leaders (executive directors, board chairs, etc.) are often faced with the questions like these:

  • We really need a new facility to carry out our mission. What do we do?
  • Our organization is ready to make a bigger impact and serve more people. What do we do?
  • Our programs have grown beyond our expectations. We need new staff, new equipment, and more space. What do we do?

A common response to these questions is a decision to consider conducting a Capital Campaign. But are you and the board ready for such a venture? The answer is, of course, “It depends.”

At Paul J. Strawhecker, Inc., we believe that a nonprofit’s readiness for a capital campaign can be assessed. In fact, we have a tool – the Philanthropic Planning Study (PPS) – that has helped over 168 clients determine their readiness for such an important undertaking before committing the time, money and effort to move forward.  After all, no one wants to be part of an UNSUCCESSFUL campaign. The PPS serves as your organization’s insurance policy!

While each Philanthropic Planning Study varies from nonprofit to nonprofit, the objectives for each study remain the same:

  • Internal Assessment
    • We assess the readiness for the organization to take-on the processes of a capital campaign. Are things like staffing, data management, board commitment, planning, and other factors in place to get started?
  • Case for Support
    • Organizations need to have a well-articulated plan to present. Why is a campaign necessary? How will contributions to the campaign be used? What benefits will result from the campaign?
  • External Research
    • What are the opinions/feelings/perspectives of your current supporters? How do they view the organization, and do they share the vision that is being presented? Will they volunteer to help and offer to support the campaign financially.
  • Analysis and Report
    • Based on a complete review of the information gathered, PJS creates and presents the findings to our non-profit client.  If a decision is made to begin a campaign, the information gathered serves as the underpinning for a campaign launch and provides perspective and reassurance that the campaign will be successful.

The outcomes associated with conducting a Philanthropic Planning Study are many.  It can energize your board and staff, engage new community leaders, raise awareness for your cause, and refresh your organization’s focus for the future. However, most important, it will answer the key questions about what your organization should do next.

  1. Do we move forward with a campaign? YES or NO
  2. What is an appropriate goal for the amount that can be raised?
  3. What volunteers can we call upon to help “lead” our campaign?
  4. What strategies should be employed to make the campaign successful?

PJS welcomes your questions and inquiries about conducting a Philanthropic Planning Study for your organization. Please call 402-556-5785 or email Ryan at to schedule a free, no-obligation conversation with our team.