7 Tips for Working Successfully with a Fundraising Consultant Firm 

If you’ve decided to hire a consultant firm to help you with your fundraising, you’re probably wondering how you can work together successfully. Having a rewarding partnership will make sure that you receive a solid return on your investment.

To work well with a consultant firm, you need to find the right professional that can address all of your concerns. So, we’ll cover seven tips you can use to find a fundraising consultant firm and communicate well with your advisor.

  1. Work with a firm that knows mobile fundraising.
  2. Understand the consultant’s job.
  3. Establish clear goals.
  4. Find the perfect fit.
  5. Give your consultant the full picture.
  6. Communicate regularly.
  7. Trust your consultant’s advice.

Let’s get started!

Mobile fundraising is an important consideration when searching for a consulting firm.
Tip #1: Work with a firm that is familiar with mobile fundraising.

With the rise of online donations and mobile giving, it’s critical that you hire a professional who understands these forms of giving and is familiar with how to create campaigns surrounding them.

Hiring someone with this knowledge means that they can suggest ways for you to expand your giving options if you aren’t too familiar with mobile fundraising.

Additionally, even if your nonprofit already uses various online and mobile giving channels, having someone with knowledge on those giving methods is crucial.

The consultant won’t have to spend time learning about your giving process and can hit the ground running.

For, instance, if you have a consultant helping you with a silent auction, they should already know about mobile bidding and the different ways to market it to your supporters. That way, your consultant can help you organize all aspects of your event and help you optimize your online giving channels.

Your consultant might also be able to give you new ideas on how to solicit donations using these channels. The possibilities are endless!

Let’s go over a few other reasons why hiring a firm with prior mobile fundraising is a must. Your consultant can help you: 

  • Market newer mobile giving channels such as text-to-give.
  • Find mobile giving software to help you create more convenient donation forms for your supporters.
  • Evaluate donors’ giving behaviors to see what giving methods are most effective.

The last point: If you want to maximize your mobile giving potential, you need to work with a consultant that has experience promoting different mobile giving channels.

It's important to understand the job of being a fundraising consultant.
Tip #2: Understand the job of a fundraising consultant.

To work well with your fundraising consultant, you need to know what their job entails. Knowing what to expect from the firm you hire will help everyone stay on the same page.

That way, when the firm completes all the services you requested, you can say that they gave you what you wanted and needed.

We’ll cover the services that consultants can and cannot provide so that you can better understand their job.

Services that a consultant can provide.

Depending on the firm that you choose, you might be offered a variety of services. Here are a few things you can expect:

  • Assist you with hiring nonprofit professionals.
  • Map out strategic fundraising plans.
  • Assess your past campaigns to look for areas of improvement.
  • Provide new ideas to maximize your fundraising.
  • Research your donors’ giving behaviors.

The consultant can give you suggestions and more knowledge, but all the decisions on what to implement fall on you and your nonprofit.

What you shouldn’t expect from your consultant.

If you hire a professional, do not expect them to:

  • Actively solicit money from individuals.
  • Reach out to their personal contacts to help you raise funds.
  • Promise you a successful outcome.

While consulting firms can help draft a plan and teach the best techniques to accomplish your goals, they can’t guarantee that your organization will raise significantly more funds or acquire a certain number of new donors.

The last point: Think of your consultant as a guide to all things fundraising. They can help lead you in the right direction, but they can’t do the fundraising for you.

Set clear goals for determining who should be your fundraising consultant.
Tip #3: Establish clear goals for what you’re trying to achieve.

You can’t convey your needs or expectations if you don’t have a solid understanding of what you want to accomplish. Setting goals helps you figure out what areas of fundraising you need help with, and they give your consultant some direction. 

Raising more funds and acquiring more donors may be your overall goals, but this isn’t specific enough for a consultant. If you want assistance, you’ll need to be as detailed as possible.

To figure out your goals, start by determining where you need the most support. Your nonprofit may need help:

  • Honing in on what makes supporters give.
  • Creating a plan for your year-end fundraising.
  • Finding unique ways to involve and interact with donors.

Depending on your nonprofit, you might need help with one area or multiple aspects of fundraising.

Once you know what areas need the most support, create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) goals. When your goals follow the five characteristics that make up the acronym SMART, you can create goals that are easier for your consultant to understand.

For example, if you want to create a goal for your next crowdfunding campaign, make sure that you set a finish line that is achievable but not too easy. Instead of saying, “We want to raise around $100,000 for our cause” make sure your goal is specific and measurable. Saying “We want to raise $12o,000 to help build an afterschool program for children in public schools” is more detailed and gives your consultant a better understanding of what you want to achieve.

The last point: Your goals will help you understand what you need from a fundraising consultant so that everyone is on the same page before the hard work begins.

Find a fundraising consultant firm that's a good fit for your organization.
Tip#4: Find a consultant firm that’s a good fit for your organization

Not every consultant firm will have the same services or present solutions in the same manner. It’s important to choose a firm with consultants that fit well with the rest of your organization’s culture.

You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your consultant to assess your needs, fine-tune your strategy, and train your other staff members. When you and the advisor’s personalities mesh well, you all can easily brainstorm ideas, discuss challenges, and voice your concerns more comfortably.

Finding the right firm is about looking for that perfect mix of characteristics. Let’s look at four things you should look for when you hire a consultant firm:

  1. Prior experience.
    You want to choose a professional who has an excellent track record and reputation. Picking a firm with experience handling nonprofits similar to yours will raise the chances that you’re successful.
  2. An outside perspective.
    While experience is important, you also want someone who can look at your nonprofit as an outsider and suggest different solutions. Someone with a fresh set of eyes may offer suggestions you never considered before.
  3. Confidence.
    You’re reaching out to a consultant for advice and guidance. If you ask an expert for ways to solve your problems, you want them to confidently provide you with solutions. That way, you don’t feel unsure about following their suggestions.
  4. Passion.
    Hiring someone who’s inspired by your nonprofit means that your consultant will work hard to help you succeed. Plus, you’ll feel more comfortable working with someone that’s excited about your cause.

These are just some of the characteristics and skills that you should look for in a fundraising consultant. You can add to the list if there is something else you’re looking for.

The last point: Finding a compatible consultant is critical if you want to receive a return on your investment. If you have an advisor that feels a par to your nonprofit family, you’ll be able to communicate better with each other. Plus, the consultant will work hard to make sure you’re happy.

Give your fundraising consultant the full picture.
Tip #5: Give your consultant the full picture.

When you hire a fundraising consultant, it’s not only important to convey your needs, but it’s also important to explain everything fully so that your consultant is aware of any concerns or problems.

While telling your consultant about your fundraising problems may seem a little scary, it’s important that your advisor knows the good and the not so great to fully evaluate your needs.  

The last thing you want is for a consultant to spend time crafting a plan and then have to rework it because he or she didn’t have a complete understanding of your organization.

Here’s why being transparent about any concerns or problems is important:

  • The consultant saves time, thus saving you money. Your consultant won’t have to redo any planning if you give them all the facts upfront.
  • Your organization receives thorough assistance. The firm can find the best solutions to your problems.
  • Larger problems can be avoided. When your consultant lacks unnecessary information, they can unknowingly make situations worse.

The last point: Once you hire a consultant firm, be transparent about why you need the help. That way, your consultant has all the information upfront.

Communicate with your fundraising consultant firm on a regular basis.
Tip#6: Communicate with your firm on a regular basis.

Communication on both sides is key if you want to work successfully with a fundraising consultant.

A consultant should be providing you with updates throughout the process so that you can stay informed. Regular reporting builds confidence and strengthens the partnership between you and your consultant.

While it’s important for the consultant to share information with you on a regular basis, it’s also in your nonprofit’s best interest to communicate well.

When you interact with the consultant firm, make sure you:

  • Respond to correspondence promptly so that your advisor can get back to working on your project sooner rather than later.
  • Voice your concerns early one so that your consultant can make the necessary changes.
  • Ask questions when you’re unsure about something so that you have a clear understanding of what your advisor is proposing.

The more you and your consultant communicate—whether it’s through email, phone calls, or in person—the better you can work together to improve your fundraising strategies.

The last point: Communicating with your fundraising advisor is about more than just receiving regular updates; it’s also about responding to questions, updates, and requests quickly.

Trust your fundraising consultant's advice.
Tip #7: Trust your consultant’s advice.

In order for your partnership to be successful, you need to hire the right expert and then let them do their job

If you are constantly second-guessing their suggestions or trying to make major changes, you’re not trusting in your consultant’s skills. 

Of course, you can request changes, conduct your own research, or reject your advisor’s recommendations if they don’t fully align with your mission. However, when you hire a firm with the right knowledge, experience, and creative ideas, you shouldn’t have to reject many of the suggestions they give you.

Instead, trust in your consultant even if they suggest something unexpected. That aim of hiring a professional is to get a fresh perspective and new ideas. You may have to go outside your nonprofit’s comfort zone to see successful results. 

The last point: When your advisor suggests a new or different approach, trust their judgment and go along with their suggestions. After all, you hired a professional to help you. Trust them to do just that!

Working successfully with the right consultant firm is about clearly communicating your goals and concerns and then trusting in your pick to guide you in the right direction.

Hopefully, these tips will help you and your fundraising consultant collaborate and grow a strong partnership that will take your nonprofit to higher levels.

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