Feasibility studies are an underutilized tool for nonprofits. With scarce budgets and the need to show that outcomes are aligned with your mission, a feasibility study is a useful investment that can save your team from wasting money on a project or program that might not be viable. In 2023, Sustainable Economies was asked to conduct a feasibility study for an Ohio-based nonprofit. The nonprofit wanted to expand their facilities. But the expansion would only make sense if they could rent out the space. Was there a community need for a new event space?
The challenge is that feasibility studies for nonprofits are different from feasibility studies for other sectors. For them to be useful for nonprofits, you need to alter the way you approach the study. Below is a table that features key differences between nonprofit feasibility studies and other types.
Therefore, we needed to leverage not just quantitative data -but qualitative data, to better understand if this was the right project for the community. We designed the feasibility study to include interviews with key stakeholders, to better understand:
- Overall demand and interest in booking events at the proposed new facility
- What design features would be needed to be successful
We found that the facility expansion could be viable. 100% of respondents said that yes, they supported the idea of the new facility for events. There were nine design features that were considered “must-haves” for this to be successful. The interviews also identified policy and management decisions that would need to be implemented in order for the expansion to be financially viable, while meeting community needs and the nonprofit mission.
The nonprofit leadership team reviewed the findings and considered how they fit into the organization’s strategic plan. The nonprofit decided not to move forward with the facility expansion. This is an important case study showing why feasibility studies are an important piece of due diligence, before a nonprofit starts investing in a new project.