Is it time to consider working with a fundraising consultant? The answer is “yes” if your nonprofit struggling with its major gift pipeline. Or if your direct marketing efforts are falling short of expectations. Or if you’re considering a capital campaign. Or if you want to start a simple planned giving program.
The question is: how do you find a good fundraising consultant who’s also a good fit for your nonprofit? How can you be sure they will be your trusted guide? And, do you have the budget? Consultants can sometimes be expensive.
Honestly, it’s often worth the money. Consider this: if you realize a single $50,000 gift from a donor, you’ve probably more than paid for that consultant and then some.
Ten tips to help you find the ideal fundraising consultant for your nonprofit
Take it from a long-time fundraising consultant—me!—here are the top 10 tips to help you find the best consultant who is capable, has integrity, has a passion for your cause, and who fits your nonprofit’s culture. You want to find someone who will be your “sherpa”, who will guide you, encourage you, serve you, and keep you out of peril. Check out these tips:
- Word of mouth. Word of mouth is often a great way to find the best consultant for your organization. Ask around within your professional network
- Seek small firms. If you are a smaller nonprofit, there are some excellent small consulting firms, possibly located near you. The Association of Fundraising Professionals has a consultant’s list on its website. Also, be sure to contact your local or regional AFP chapter—they usually have a list of local consultants they can share with you.
- Check hidden costs. As you’re speaking to your potential consultant, be sure to ask what other costs may be involved (travel expenses, mileage, etc.).
- Set expectations. What are your expectations? Some organizations believe it’s very important to use someone local. Others believe the opposite – that they need a nationally-recognized large firm. Still others find it important to hire a consultant with a particular specialty – Boys & Girls Clubs, public broadcasting, or faith-based organizations, for instance.
- Check out their work style. What kind of work style fits your organization’s culture? Are you expecting the consultant to be onsite, or do they work from their own office?
- Consider personality. Do you prefer a very polished, formal individual, or someone more down-to-earth and relaxed?
- Take the team’s temperature. Once you meet with your consultant candidates, note how your team “grades” them—you want everyone to buy into her or his advice and guidance.
- Meet with finalists again. When you get close to making your decision, ask your final candidates to come back in and meet with your development team as well as the chair of your board, or the chair of your board’s development committee.
- Contact references. (Doh! )
- Include an opt-out clause. Finally, be sure to have a written and signed contract with an opt-out clause in case things don’t work out. Just about every consultant has been “fired” at one time or another, or conversely, has “fired” a client.
We hope these ten tips for finding the best fundraising consultant for your nonprofit will make your search and decision-making much easier. Need help? We are standing by to assist you in your search for the right fundraising consultant for your nonprofit. Contact us today to learn more.