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How to Hire a Good Fundraising Consultant

for executive directors work relationships Jan 25, 2022

Most nonprofits hire an outside fundraising consultant at one point or another in their life cycles. Some consultants assess situations and provide solutions, some facilitate trainings, and some perform specialized tasks. And, like everything, some are better than others. At least for your engagement. When you need an outside perspective, how do you go about finding the consultant who is just right for you and your agency?

Asking around will give you an idea of who has performed well for someone else. Your situation may or may not be similar. You may research someone who has approached you. But you need to know the right questions to ask to get usable information. And the information is confusing. The words ‘fundraising’ and ‘consultant’ are not very well defined and mean different things to different people. If you shop around, you will probably not get similar services offered, scopes of work needed, or price points.

Let me help you overcome the confusing mounds of information so that you can hire the right person and get the results you desire. Here is an excerpt from my upcoming book The Sustainable High ROI Fundraising System that will be released in March:

“The role of a consultant is to provide opinions, analyses, and recommendations based on their expertise. They have an objective pair of eyes, providing strategies to prevent problems and improve performance. Fundraising consultants may have skills in developing annual campaigns, writing grants, implementing special events, asking for corporate donations, building major gift programs, conducting capital campaigns, recommending donor management systems, or advising in general nonprofit organization administration. Their main goal is to achieve desired fundraising objectives and targets. They can be individuals or employees of a firm. The ideal consultant will have previous fundraising experience, excellent communication skills, strong organizational skills, and proven experience in budgeting and managing money.

The first step to finding a good consultant is to determine your nonprofit’s needs and goals. As we pointed out in Chapter Four, your nonprofit is unique in many ways. You want to make sure that you select someone who can work within your agency’s specific structure and culture.

Do your research. Understand the services the consultant offers. Assess their history in the type of project you need to be done. There are many types of fundraising consultants who can focus on different types of fundraising activity or their separate elements. Use your network to ask for recommendations.

Interview several firms. Ask about their values. Evaluate their expertise. Ascertain how their clients are better off at the end and after the engagement. Ask them what makes their approach unique. Assess workstyle. Question them about their work processes and whether they will be working alone or with others. As they will be dealing with proprietary information, ask how they will ensure confidentiality. Determine their availability to you. Understand the engagement, fees, and payment process. And ask how many other engagements they will manage at one time.

If you are interested in working with them, request a proposal and ask for references.”

The key to hiring a good fundraising consultant is to be clear on what your goals are and share them with prospective hires. Assess their hard skills, yes. But spend more time evaluating their communication and interpersonal skills. A good fit is just as important as expertise. And more important than price. Look at the value of what they’re offering in light of the outcomes you want to achieve rather than their price. You don’t want to end up at the end of the engagement with a result that isn’t totally what you need.

Wrapping It Up

My upcoming book gives you more detail about attracting talent, both consultants and staff, that will stick with you and get you to your goals. You can find out more by clicking here.

Next Steps

Let’s talk about where your nonprofit is in its fundraising journey and what your next steps are.  You’re invited to schedule a complimentary, thirty-minute strategy session with me.  During our time together, we’ll clarify the issues your nonprofit is facing, explore possible solutions, and develop a plan of action. 

I look forward to speaking with you!

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