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If you’ve decided to hire a nonprofit 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 nonprofit consultant, 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 adviser.
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 nonprofit consultant 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.
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Additionally, even if your nonprofit already uses various online and mobile giving channels, having a nonprofit consulting firm 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 nonprofit 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 nonprofit consulting 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:
- 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.
In addition to improving your fundraising strategies, consultants can also help you recruit the perfect staff for your organization. That way, you have strong, professional leaders running your new fundraising efforts.
Let’s face it: hiring a major gift coordinator, executive director, or prospect researcher can be challenging and time-consuming. First, you have to write a detailed job description that attracts qualified candidates and then narrow down your applicants to interview.
A fundraising constant can help with the search by developing an executive search strategy, forming a committee, managing applications and interviews, and implementing an onboarding program.
For an in-depth look at top executive search consultants, check out this list on Double the Donation.
At the end of the day, a 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 nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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’re launching a capital campaign, a large part of your plan should go to establishing your goals for how much you want to raise and how that money will be used to fund your large project. Instead of saying, “we need to raise around 2 million,” you should create estimated budgets for how much your project will cost and set a concrete amount (accounting for unexpected costs).
Additionally, an accurate budget ensures that you’re not setting your goal too high or too low. That way, your organization will have a better chance of accomplishing your goal and completing your project.
Setting a clear budget not only helps your fundraising consultant determine the best course of action but it can also help you create a detailed, persuasive case statement, which can lead to more donations and reaching (or exceeding!) your goal.
Getting to a point where you can be as specific as possible with how much you want to raise and how the money will be allocated 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 nonprofit consultant to help you with metric implementation.
Tip #4: Find a consulting firm that’s a good fit for your organization
Not every nonprofit 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 nonprofit consultant to assess your needs, fine-tune your strategy, and train your other staff members. When you and the adviser’s personalities mesh well, you can easily brainstorm ideas, discuss challenges, and voice your concerns more comfortably.
Finding the right consultant is about looking for that perfect mix of characteristics. Let’s look at four things you should look for when you hire a nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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 adviser 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 nonprofit consultant about your fundraising problems may seem intimidating, it’s important that your adviser 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 nonprofit consulting firm 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 nonprofit consulting firm, make sure you:
- Respond to correspondence promptly so that your adviser 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 adviser is proposing.
The more you and your nonprofit 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 nonprofit consultant’s skills.
Of course, you can request changes, conduct your own research, or reject your adviser’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 adviser 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
1. Aly Sterling Philanthropy
Aly Sterling Philanthropy is a full-service nonprofit 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:
- Executive search strategies.
- Fundraising solutions.
- Strategic planning.
- Board governance.
2. DNL OmniMedia
DNL OmniMedia is your go-to nonprofit consultant on all things nonprofit tech and web solutions.
This full-service web development agency is all about creating custom digital strategies to help nonprofits reach their philanthropic goals.
DNL OmniMedia is devoted to taking your online outreach to the next level with services like:
- Web design and development.
- Digital and event marketing.
- Content and data migration.
- Donor management.
3. Averill Fundraising Solutions
With a leadership team boasting a combined 75+ years of fundraising experience, Averill Fundraising Solutions is a full-service fundraising consulting firm that lives up to the label.
No matter what kind of campaign you’re planning, Averill can help with every stage of the process:
- Campaign planning and feasibility studies
- Campaign direction
- Leadership learning
- Executive search
Working successfully with the right nonprofit 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.
If you want to learn more about fundraising before bringing on a consulting firm, freshen up with these additional resources:
- Mobile Giving: The Effective Guide: Before you hire a fundraising consulting firm, it’s important that you choose someone familiar with the most up-to-date nonprofit technology. That means mobile fundraising! Get familiar with this ultimate guide.
- Simple and Effective Church Management Tips: 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.
- Questions to Ask about Online Tithing Tools: 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.