With a little thought and preparedness on this side of a campaign, organizations can be ready for success. With only partial preparedness, things will be harder than they need to be and results can be crippling. I do not believe I am overstating the importance that feasibility studies need to be used for both their external revelations and their internal insight.
External data will give your organization important information about the readiness of the community toward your campaign and it should be used to determine next steps. However, if the study only looks at your nonprofit's external capacity to support a campaign, you are starting with problems.
It is equally important to look internally to measure campaign preparedness.
Every campaign, in its drawing phase, needs to be able to answer these questions: Is the board ready for the campaign? Are the executive and/or fundraising departments prepared? Your organization is in for a hammering if you only go only on the word of the community.
An internal development assessment will measure the board’s ability to function and to raise money by sharing donor prospect names and making solicitations. It will also measure the ability of the executive, fundraising and program staff to handle the administrative and fund-raising aspects of the campaign.
If your organization's internal audit is found lacking in any of these areas, you will need to address them and strengthen them before moving forward with your campaign.
It once again comes down to having the ability to change. Let me be another voice warning you, organizations without the capacity to change can be headed for disaster. On the flipside however, organizations that are prepared to handle changing times and are willing to develop collaborations and adjust their programs consistently have more success conducting campaigns and even annual fund drives.
How is your organization doing? Are you ready to overcome barriers? Are you developing collaborations? Does your non-profit have a plan for adjusting to changing times? Do you have a development department? Is it time to build one, or time to access and utilize the one that is established?
Ask the hard questions now, clean up your systems and your approach before things get started. Clean up on this side of a campaign is powerful and energizing and hopeful. Clean up on the other side, although crucial, does not have the same effect. Make sure you community is prepared and your staff is equipped before you get started!