Corporation Solicitation Programs – Part 1 of 3: Consultant Compensation

Sections of this topic

    A thread in a listserve in which I participate addressed the question(s) of Creating-and-Implementing and Finding-and-Compensating a Consultant to help with a Corporation Solicitation Programs.

    Interestingly, the latter issue stimulated most of the responses/comments, with little attention being paid to the former.

    So, I’ll address the “more popular” issue first – compensating the “consultant” … and you’ll soon see why I use quotation marks around the term.

    In my 30+ years as a fundraising consultant, I’ve seen corporate fundraising done by staff and/or volunteers, with a consultant advising/teaching/guiding; and, I’ve seen a “consultant” doing the fundraising from the corporations on behalf of the NPO. In both cases, it always created a conflict of interest if the consultant was to be compensated on a commission/percentage basis.

    In the first circumstance, the relationship is between the NPO and the corporation. The consultant may make the initial contact with the corp, but the discussions are between the NPO family and the corporate people. In this case, the consultant actually consults. S/he is paid for her/his time/effort/expertise, with no consideration as to how much money the NPO may or may not raise.

    In the second scenario, the “consultant” does little or no consulting. The relationships are between the “consultant” and the corporations. The “consultant’s” role is to “show” the corporation how their support of the NPO will benefit that corporation. Again, the “consultant” should be compensated on the basis of the time/effort/expertise that goes into making “it” happen, not on a percentage/commission basis.

    Many corporations (especially those who are frequently asked to support NPOs) are aware of the “rule” prohibiting commission/percentage compensation for those raising money for a non-profit organization. Many of those corporations agree with and accept that concept. Some don’t!! Some don’t care!! The question is whether you want to risk appearing ignorant of “accepted practice” and/or seeming not to care??

    (Conflict-of-Interest issues tend to become public information, and have hurt many nonprofits and their ability to raise money. It is, therefore, with good reason, that all of the major associations of nonprofit organizations and those of charitable-fundraising professionals accept and endorse this “rule.”)

    Have a comment or a question about starting or expanding your basic fundraising program, a corporate giving program, your major gifts fundraising program or a capital campaign? Email me at With over 30 years of counseling in major gifts, capital campaigns, bequest programs and the planning studies to precede these three, we’ll be happy to answer your question.