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5 Reasons Your Nonprofit Should Hire a Fundraising Consultant

Posted Sep 23, 2022 04:05 PM
Nonprofits are resourceful, but sometimes you need an extra hand with more in-depth expertise to help you find new donors or work out kinks in your strategy. If your organization needs a fundraising boost but isn’t sure how to get there, hiring a fundraising consultant could be the answer.

Let’s discuss five key reasons why organizations like yours might work with a fundraising consultant and the variety of ways they can help.

1. You want to breathe new life into your fundraising strategy

If you’re caught in a loop of launching the same fundraisers year after year, you and your donors are probably ready for a new strategy. However, it can be hard to determine what changes to make and implement them successfully on your own.

By working with a fundraising consultant, you’ll get an unbiased, expert perspective on your strategy and detailed recommendations for improvement. For instance, a consultant might:

  1. Analyze your existing fundraising strategy to discover your strengths and opportunities. They’ll look at past and present fundraising campaigns, identifying key success factors and gaps in your strategy.
  2. Conduct donor research to identify the best prospects for increasing their support. Fundraising consultants who specialize in prospect research can use their expertise and research tools to analyze individuals’ capacity, affinity, and propensity to give larger gifts to your nonprofit, helping you cultivate and tap into these relationships.
  3. Assist your team with planning successful campaigns. Consultants can help you with everything you need to make your fundraisers a success, from goal setting to budgeting to designing donor stewardship plans.

Fundraising consultants often have specific types of fundraising that they focus on, so be sure to research their services and hire the right consultant for your needs.

2. You need more major donors

Major donors are fundamental to progressing your mission, as their contributions are the largest and most impactful. But cultivating and stewarding major donors takes time and in-depth research, so it can be helpful to streamline your approach with outside help.

Nonprofit consultants can strengthen your major giving program by handling prospect research for you, grounding your cultivation and solicitation strategies in research, and even helping you hire a dedicated major gifts officer or team. Some consultants may also help you secure planned gifts and other types of legacy giving.

While you can conduct prospect research on your own, the process involves investing in research tools and spending a significant amount of time sorting through records yourself. Outsourcing the process to a consultant will save your team time and allow you to focus more on your mission.

3. You’re launching a capital campaign

Capital campaigns require immense coordination throughout your organization, and it can be challenging to find your footing if you’re new to such large-scale projects. A consultant can help you start on the right foot and prepare to greatly increase your fundraising capacity. They might do so by:

  • Conducting a feasibility study. Nonprofit consultants can help you test the viability of your campaign by conducting interviews with your major stakeholders to determine what you need to do to gather enough support.
  • Planning multi-phase, multi-year campaigns. They’ll help you create the long-term plan for the capital campaign, including how to hone in on major donors and align each phase with one cohesive goal.
  • Providing ongoing guidance. The best consultants will help you see the campaign through to completion, helping you through any bumps in the road.

Because capital campaigns can span several years, hiring a consultant can help the campaign stay on track without putting your other projects on hold.

4. You need help hiring new staff

Whether you’re expanding your team or are looking to fill an open role, a fundraising consultant can be the perfect fit to step in and fill the gaps in your operations while you look for a new in-house hire.

Depending on your needs, consultants might step into the roles of:

  • A major gifts officer who researches prospective major donors and initiates those conversations for your organization.
  • Fundraising strategists who take over the responsibilities of planning and launching your fundraisers.
  • Grant writers who assist you in writing grant proposals and finding new grants to apply for.
  • A development officer who continues research, donor outreach, and other development initiatives to keep your nonprofit growing.

All the while, these transitional staff members can help you with the hiring and onboarding process to ensure you ultimately find the best fit for your team.

5. Your board needs to be re-engaged

According to eCardWidget, it’s vital for board members to feel engaged and appreciated because each member is crucial to your organization’s success. But engaging board members can be difficult, especially if your board is in a state of transition.

A nonprofit consultant can evaluate the effectiveness of your board and work to get board members more engaged with future campaigns. Your consultant may, for example, host training meetings to re-inspire board members by teaching them about fundraising best practices and how they can maximize their positive impact.

Getting Started: How to Hire Fundraising Consultants

If any of the reasons we’ve discussed apply to your nonprofit, get started by researching potential fundraising consultants to hire.

According to Donorly’s guide to hiring a fundraising consultant, following these steps will help you select the right one:

  1. Define your needs. Are you looking for someone to help you expand your organization, train new staff, or implement new fundraising strategies? Speak with your board and leadership to outline the objectives and deliverables you would like the consultant to complete before you begin a search.
  2. Create a request for proposal (RFP). This document defines your organization’s needs and conveys your expectations for potential consultants. Include background information, the project’s timeline, your goals, how success will be measured, and deadlines for proposal submissions.
  3. Research consultant options. Speak with colleagues and partner organizations to see if they have any recommendations. Then, visit consultants’ websites to find their fundraising philosophies, ensuring they align with your values and mission. Once you have a shortlist of candidates that you’re interested in, submit your RFP to each option!
  4. Interview candidates. Once your top candidates have your RFP, give them at least two weeks to draft a proposal. Ask your candidates for references, then interview the candidates you think would be the best fit. You may also ask consultants to make alterations to their proposals as needed to fit the specific needs of your organization.

Based on their proposals and interviews, you can choose the candidate to hire, sign a contract, and start working with your new partner!