Four Things to Consider as You Decide
Fundraising today is more important than ever as we get ready to hit the “play” button for a nation and so many nonprofits that have been “on pause”.” Nonprofit leadership teams and Boards have varying degrees of talent, knowledge, and skill, so there isn’t always a need to hire a professional to do what you could do yourself. But there are some things — even if you know how to do them – that you just won’t get accomplished as effectively as a professional.
The need to leverage an expert’s education, experience, and contacts is necessary if you want to accelerate the time it takes to transform a vision into reality. Understanding when it’s time to bring in an expert to help with fundraising requires that you examine at least four elements of your nonprofit organization first.
Some people hate plumbing. They would rather do anything else than work on a plumbing issue, but they may have other strengths they lean on when it comes to home projects. For your nonprofit, your strengths as a leader and executive may include aspects of fundraising, but is that where you want to spend your time? Especially in today’s unpredictable environment, your leadership efforts may be better spent on strategically planning for the future and fostering positive communication with your staff, constituents, and investors.
Know Your Organization
Whether you’re serving as the Executive Director or the Board Chair, it’s difficult to know all there is to know about your organization. You surely lean on others including your accountant, staff members, Board members, constituents, and even recipients of your organization’s services to help provide you with a wide-angle view of your nonprofit.
Similarly, you may consider consulting a professional to shore up crucial components of a successful fundraising campaign before you begin. We call these Asking RightsTM. They include outcomes, skills, and credibility. An organization’s credibility is its quality or power of inspiring belief. Its outcomes detail the impact it has on its primary customer’s lives. Are these things you know or measure currently? Click here for a short quiz we designed to determine how your Asking Rights score.
Know Your Goals, Really Know Them
Figuring out a fundable plan for the future for your nonprofit involves more than just a list of five-year goals. Some of the questions a fundraising consultant may ask include:
- An estimate of how much your nonprofit is looking to raise (are you ready to start with a feasibility study, an important step in helping to confirm this estimate?)
- Your funding history (who has invested in your nonprofit recently and in the past?)
- Your plan for the funds (do you have a strong case for support?)
If your nonprofit’s goal is to launch a new capital campaign for a building, to fund new programs, to expand current operations, or to make your organization sustainable for the future, you’ll want to have this information detailed before calling on an expert.
Know What You’re Looking For
If you do decide to bring in a fundraising consultant, be sure to do your homework. Determine what your organization needs and then research what firm would be best to serve those needs. Just like you would for other professional services you’re seeking to hire, meet with a few fundraising consultants and ask for references. Call their current or former clients to see how they would rate the consultant’s overall performance and communication.
Depending on your needs, a good fundraising consultant will suggest the following four basic steps, or some version of them:
- Conduct a feasibility study
- Assess your fundraising campaign strategy
- Find prospective investors/donors
- Educate and strengthen your internal fundraising team
Find out how each consultant addresses these steps and check their success record.
I think we all understand that sometimes hiring a professional will actually save us money (and crucial time!) in the long run. Experts have experience and education specific to the service you need and can do the heavy lifting to free up your time for leadership and strategic guidance. Understanding your nonprofit from the view of the four elements outlined above will help you decide if, when, and how if you decide to bring in the experts before your next fundraising campaign.