Preparing for a Capital Campaign: Why You Need a Feasibility Study

A feasibility study, or assessment, is the optimal way to measure the amount of money an organization can raise, at a specific point in time, for a specific project.  It is also an excellent opportunity to explore different issues that affect the ultimate outcome of your capital campaign.  With a campaign assessment in hand, you can proceed with a campaign in confidence, knowing the goal will be both ambitious and achievable.

The Capacity Partners® Feasibility Study is designed to answer these fundamental questions:

  • Likelihood of achieving a specific campaign goal and/or identification of a realistic yet ambitious goal;
  • Capacity and inclination of potential or current major donors;
  • Appeal of the case for support;
  • Identification of campaign leaders;
  • Strength and commitment of campaign leaders and volunteers;
  • Manageability of important issues or concerns.

It is essential to measure the following set of criteria before you launch your campaign so you can achieve success by becoming aware of the potential challenges and areas of strength of your capital campaign.


  • INSTITUTIONAL IMAGE:  Does the organization command the respect and support of potential donors?  How well is it perceived to be serving the needs of primary and secondary stakeholders?  Are there perceptions that might stand in the way of successful fundraising, and can the Executive Leadership and Board overcome any such negative perceptions?
  • SOUND PLAN FOR FUTURE:  Is there a compelling vision and strategic plan guiding the organization and accepted by the community? Is the plan supported by solid financial analysis?
  • PROJECT VALIDATION:  Do potential donors consider the campaign’s objectives to be important?   Would the community be receptive to a capital campaign for these purposes?
  • EFFECTIVE INSTITUTIONAL LEADERSHIP:  Is the Board prepared to offer philanthropic leadership?  Can the Executive Leadership devote sufficient time to her/his leadership role in the campaign?


  • INFORMED STAKEHOLDERS:  Are the key stakeholders and other constituents communicated with regularly and informed about the organization’s plans? Do they feel connected to the organization?
  • MOTIVATED VOLUNTEERS:  Is there a sufficient pool of willing volunteers, within or outside the Board, to build a campaign organization of highly motivated and influential volunteer leaders? Has an individual of sufficient stature and visibility been identified to provide volunteer leadership for the campaign?
  • CULTIVATED PROSPECTS:  Have those individuals most capable of support been cultivated?


  • IMMEDIATE POTENTIAL:  Are sufficient funds available through donors capable and ready to make pledges of capital gifts totaling the campaign goal over three to five years?  Is there a history of giving, or committed donors, to support such a goal?
  • LEAD GIFTS:  Is there a lead gift of 10% of the campaign goal?  Do the top 10 gifts equal 30-50% of the goal?  Are there likely to be sufficient numbers of major gifts?  Is the current proportion of at least 3 qualified prospects for every gift observed in planning?
  • LONG-TERM CAPACITY:  Does the organization have the potential giving capacity to meet the campaign goals over time, if that potential is cultivated appropriately?


  • STAFF:  Does development staff have the range of skills and breadth of experience to lead and support a campaign, with or without the guidance of a consultant?  Have plans been made to add staff based upon the new demands of the campaign?
  • STRUCTURE:  Have preliminary plans for prospect development and research been put in place?
  • SYSTEMS:  Are the appropriate record-keeping systems in place?  Does the software include a prospect management system?  Are databases thorough and up to date?

With a carefully designed and implemented feasibility study, you can prepare your nonprofit organization for a successful, transformative capital campaign. If you'd like to talk to Capacity Partners about a feasibility study or your capital campaign, please don't hesitate to email Mary Robinson

National Bonsai Foundation

National Bonsai Foundation

CONSULTING AREA: Feasibility study & Capital campaign management

The Capacity Partners team is always very responsive and hands-on. They conducted a feasibility study that was incredibly helpful to our Board as we decided how to move forward, and now they are helping insure the success of our fundraising campaign for the Japanese Pavilion.

– Johann F. Klodzen, Executive Director, National Bonsai Foundation


The National Bonsai Foundation sustains the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the U. S. National Arboretum. The Japanese Pavilion, which was built in 1976, was in dire need of renovation and improvements. NBF needed a feasibility study to help its Board decide how to move forward on an ambitious fundraising campaign for the Pavilion. NBF engaged Capacity Partners, based on a recommendation from one of its Board members, to conduct a feasibility study.

Key Challenges

In order to restore the Japanese Pavilion, NBF would have to raise more money than it ever had before.

Services Provided

Capacity Partners conducted a feasibility study that allowed the NBF Board to gain a better understanding of the organization’s strengths and weaknesses. When NBF leadership decided to moved forward on a campaign for the Japanese Pavilion, Capacity Partners then developed a detailed fundraising plan and Julie Crudele joined the project team as campaign manager, working closely with NBF to execute the plan.


The feasibility study allowed NBF to determine the best path forward at a critical juncture. In 2012, as NBF celebrated it 30th anniversary, it launched the Campaign for the Japanese Pavilion: A Gift Renewed. A philanthropic member of the Board stepped forward to make a promised gift of $1.5 million toward the ambitious $2 million campaign total, and the organization is now working toward a $500,000 fundraising goal, with ongoing campaign management by Capacity Partners.