The need to engage a Development/Fundraising consultant depends not only on whether or not your organization already has the specific expertise it needs; but, also, if an outside perspective is needed to help you identify your strengths and/or weaknesses, or if an outsider is needed to help you break up your internal logjam … and get things moving.
This is the first in a two-part series addressing the questions of when and why to engage a fundraising consultant. Please note, fundraising consultants are not fund-raisers – they don’t (shouldn’t) do “it” for you.
Consultants can teach you how to do “it.” They can help you design the process to make “it” happen. They can coach you while you’re making “it” happen. They can work with you to help you make it happen. They can (in the proper circumstances) go with you when you’re making “it” happen. They can suggest changes in how you do “it,” and in how you think about doing “it.”
But a good consultant knows that s/he is not the best person to be asking your (potential) donors for gifts. The consultant is an outsider, and outsiders cannot be as effective in making “it” happen as can be committed insiders.
You should consider hiring a consultant:
When you want to know if your fundraising program is as effective as it could be.
It’s sometimes called a fundraising audit, and the essence of the
process is that you get an objective outsider – with the appropriate
background and experience – to take a look at your fundraising
programs, and provide you with a report of his/her findings. Said
report should include observations, comments and recommendations
on what you’re doing right, as well as what you could be doing more
When you are thinking about or are desirous of implementing a new (type of) development program.
Once in a while someone might ask why you aren’t doing what that
other nonprofit is doing, or why don’t you try this great fundraising
program that they’ve heard stories about. Asking those questions
is good; but, leaping into a new program without sufficient information
expertise and funding can be disastrous.
The right consultant can help you determine if you’re ready to take
that leap, or if there’s specific information, expertise and budgeting
you’d have to acquire first.
When you think there might be a need for a capital campaign in your organization’s future.
Much has been written about readiness and preparation for a capital
campaign (Book Five in The Fundraising Series – Capital Campaigns),
so I’ll try not to repeat a lot of what’s been said so many times before.
Except that … “A capital campaign can not only be a great fundraising
and leadership generating process, but it can also be the riskiest step
any organization could take.”
Considering that, and the need to begin the capital campaign “process”
years before you actually start soliciting campaign contributions, the
right consultant can help you determine if such an effort could be
successful, and what you’d have to do to be sure that it is. Keep in
mind, no organization can afford to risk a failure … the consequences
could be disastrous.
There’s that word (disastrous) again. So, one reason to engage
a consultant is to help you avoid disaster.
Next week we continue with our discussion of when
you might want to hire a fundraising/development consultant
Have a comment or a question about starting, evaluating
or expanding your fundraising program?
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