The Role of A Fundraising Consultant

Posted by on Jan 31, 2012 | 0 comments

Today’s post is from a friend and colleague in the nonprofit fundraising world, Ann Fitzpatrick of A.C. Fitzpatrick and Associates.  A fellow fundraising consultant, Ann is a mentor for many who are fighting for freedom around the world; her candid and knowledgable approach to successful fundraising never fails to impress and inspire.

The following  entry entitled “What Should We Expect of A Consultant?” is part of Ann’s regular outreach to her subscribers:

“When faced with difficulties in raising money, some nonprofit executives fall into the trap of thinking: ‘Once we hire a consultant, our funding problems will be solved.’

The truth is that while consultants can be key partners for nonprofits that are ready to tackle problems such as murky vision, a lackluster board, poor management or weak fundraising skills, they are not a fix-all remedy.

When is it the right time to hire a consultant? And what should we expect of a consultant? Follow these guidelines for creating a successful consultant relationship:

Evaluate your needs and budget. Consultants provide varying services based on their expertise. Do you need a strategic plan? A fundraising audit? An additional pair of hands in the fundraising office? Assistance with a capital campaign? Staff training? Or board development?

Find the right match. Not all consultants do the same work. Be sure to check references to ensure the consultant has the skills you require, as well as accomplishments to back them up.

Put deliverables in writing. Many consultant relationships are soured when the consultant fails to live up to expectations. But sometimes that’s the fault of the nonprofit, which fails to make its expectations clear. Discuss your requirements with the consultant and what you want out of the relationship. Review these expectations every few months to ensure both you and the consultant are on the same page.

Be realistic. Consultants rarely have philanthropists in their back pockets that they can direct to fund your nonprofit’s programs. However, an experienced consultant team can offer other valuable services. For instance, they might: provide focus for your fundraising activities, guide your organization around potential pitfalls, deliver honest messages to management, and build the strength of your fundraising team.

Remain fully engaged. Yes, consultants can reduce some of the burdens of fundraising, but they cannot work alone. The most successful relationships are ones in which the leadership remains engaged and available for conference calls and meetings.

When in doubt, consider the 4 c’s. Look for consultants who are compatible, competent, confidential and who share a belief in your cause.

Finally, remember that the consultant works for you. This may sound obvious, but a good consultant—like any other team member—will benefit from your honest assessment and regular feedback on what is helpful and what is not.”

Thank you Ann, once again you’re right on target!

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