Campaign Planning Studies: Is NOW the Right Time?

By Jeffrey D. Byrne

Co-Founder + CEO

A number of our clients and contacts have asked us about the proper timing for a Campaign Planning Study in light of the ongoing pandemic. Whether you call it a “Feasibility Study,” “Campaign Planning Study,” or “Campaign Readiness Assessment,” a planning study is critical to laying a solid foundation for a large-scale fundraising effort.  Not only does it help prepare your organization internally, but a (good) planning study also externally tests your project plans and campaign concept.

Eight months in, industries have adjusted to the new normal of masks, social distancing and Zoom calls. Several of Byrne Pelofsky’s clients paused their campaigns in March and April of this year, but have since resumed at full steam ahead. We have also launched a number of studies and campaigns since the summer.

Now that donors, leaders and key influencers have a better understanding of what the immediate to short term future holds, now could definitely be the time to test external receptivity to your organization’s dream project.

A solid planning study doesn’t just test the waters on your campaign goal and concept….it should include getting a head start on cultivating and soliciting key leadership and lead gifts for the campaign.

That’s where the Byrne Pelofsky Campaign Planning Study comes into play.

Yes, we need the planning study process to measure internal readiness:

  • Assessing the organization’s infrastructure, giving histories and current/previous activities in fundraising
  • Reviewing the functionality of the Board and other volunteers as related to fundraising
  • Appraising your organization’s financial development strengths
  • Determining what is already in place and what is needed to enhance the overall success of your campaign

Yes, we need to a planning study to test external receptivity and get perspective from top donors, leaders and key influencers. Now is the perfect time to really understand the role your organization plays in a crisis:

  • Seeking community feedback about your organization, your programs, your leadership and the specific project within the campaign
  • Gauge the potential for support for the fundraising effort
  • Evaluate the fundraising landscape and market viability (potentially competing efforts)

Then we compile and analyze the findings and develop a final report and campaign action plan containing observations, conclusions and recommendations to serve as a nifty road map for implementing your campaign.

Many times, an organization (the Board) will PAUSE after a planning study final report is presented, to contemplate the findings and recommendations and make its own determination of next steps. Yes, a campaign is serious business and the decision to undertake one merits serious reflection.  But too often, an organization is struck by “analysis paralysis” and lets too much time pass before finally deciding to move forward with a campaign.  By then, “real life” is back in full swing. Or, in our current case, the situation with the public health crisis may have changed so much that the findings no longer apply.  A tremendous opportunity is lost.

But wait!  This delay can be avoided, and forward energy and enthusiasm can be maintained.

A Byrne Pelofsky Campaign Planning Study also includes critical activities to leverage the awareness and momentum generated during the internal review and personal interviews:

  • Recruiting campaign leadership (chairs/co-chairs)
  • Organizing and launching the Campaign Steering Committee
  • Appraising and prioritizing your top leadership gifts for the campaign (and that includes strategies for cultivation and solicitation)
  • Soliciting the “Inner Family” (Board members, Campaign Steering Committee and staff)

Is the Byrne Pelofsky Campaign Planning Study right for your nonprofit?   Give us a call (816-237-1999) or drop us a line (info@byrnepelofsky.com) and we’ll help you decide.

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