If you’ve decided to hire a consulting firm to help you with your fundraising, you’re probably wondering how you can work together successfully. A strong partnership will ensure that you receive a solid return on your investment.
To work well with a consulting 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 consulting firm and communicate well with your advisor.
Start with our top tips or go ahead and check out our top recommended fundraising consultants who can help your organization!
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 incorporating these tools into a fundraising strategy.
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 experience 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.
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:
- Assistance with hiring nonprofit professionals.
- Mapping out strategic fundraising plans.
- Assessments of your past campaigns to look for areas of improvement.
- New ideas to maximize your fundraising.
- Research on 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.
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 determine the areas of fundraising where you’ll need the most assistance.
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.
Specifically, 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.
Getting to a point where you can be as specific as “We want to raise $120,000” is going to involve proper tracking of key fundraising metrics. Accurate goal setting will rely heavily on your knowledge of your organization’s current and historic performance record. Metric measurements will give you that knowledge.
If you’re not set up for metric tracking, you’re going to have a hard time goal-setting. In that case, you might choose to look for a consultant to help you with metric implementation.
Tip #4: Find a consulting firm that’s a good fit for your organization
Not every consulting 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 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 consulting firm:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Hiring someone who’s interested in 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 other characteristics to the list if they’re important to your nonprofit.
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 on par with 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.
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 intimidating, 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 if they know the extent of your issues.
- Larger problems can be avoided. When your consultant lacks necessary information, they can unknowingly make situations worse.
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.
It’s especially important to maintain a consistent communication schedule during long-term projects, like capital campaigns so that everyone stays on track.
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 be responsive and collaborative toward their communications.
When you interact with the consulting 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 on 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.
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’re constantly second-guessing their suggestions or trying to make major changes, you’re not trusting 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!
Recommended Consulting Firms
Aly Sterling Philanthropy is a full-service consulting firm that can drastically improve your fundraising strategy.
Their services are designed to help you strengthen your internal operations through sustainable solutions so that your nonprofit continues to improve even after your contract ends.
Specifically, their services include:
- Fundraising solutions.
- Strategic planning.
- Executive search services.
- Board governance.
Brian Lacy and Associates boasts over 30 years of fundraising and data service experience. With Brian Lacy, nonprofits can build a more engaged donor base that will lead to long-term success.
Brian Lacy promotes a strong solicitation program for annual giving, as well as more specific services, including:
- Annual giving consulting.
- Temporary management programs.
Bentz Whaley Flessner promotes transformational philanthropy designed to engage donors more deeply in nonprofits’ causes.
With three decades of experience, Bentz Whaley Flessner specializes in universities and medical centers.
Their services include:
- Annual Giving.
- Campaign counsel.
- Prospect development.
Before you hire a fundraising consulting firm, it’s important that you choose someone familiar with the most up-to-date nonprofit technology.
For example, mobile fundraising is one of the most effective ways to raise money and engage your donors at the same time.
Churches can be large organizations with tons of operations, logistics, and congregants. With so much going on, a fundraising consultant can be a huge asset to religious and faith-based organizations.
Understanding the role of church management can help you determine whether your church needs the assistance of a consultant and in what ways they can support your organization.
Online tithing tools allow congregants to give at their convenience. Online tithing is great for congregants who don’t carry cash or who may have forgotten their check books.
Used in conjunction with a traditional offering plate, online tithing can ensure that all of your congregants are able to give! A fundraising consultant can help you implement text-to-tithe software in a larger campaign or fundraising strategy.
Working successfully with the right consulting 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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