The concept of hiring a consultant can sometimes feel out of reach for small nonprofits. While large, for-profit businesses bring in consultants regularly, you may question if it’s something your small non-profit can afford or should be doing. The answer – absolutely.
Fundraising consultants provide small nonprofits a cost-effective opportunity to improve how they function and raise more funds. They can help you with grant writing, data management, event planning, and more. Most have flexible pay scales and many do work for smaller nonprofits pro-bono. So, if you’re questioning your projected budget, never seem to earn a grant, or are wondering why your events aren’t successful… it’s time to bring in an outside professional.
What a Nonprofit Fundraising Consultant Brings to the Table
A nonprofit fundraising consultant brings a level of expertise and skills that many small nonprofits are lacking. As an outsider with no emotional attachment to how your organization has done things in the past, your consultant can objectively review and evaluate your fundraising strategies. After this evaluation, your consultant can not only provide valuable feedback, but also help you implement new or improved fundraising practices.
This could begin with the implementation of donor management software like Eleo, which would allow you to simplify the management of donor data and take advantage of advanced capabilities at an affordable price. Your consultant can then help you set up your software so it does what you need it to do.
Best practices implementation can also involve assigning roles and responsibilities, creating a culture of philanthropy across your nonprofit, and understanding how to identify, engage, and build relationships with donors. Once you have the right systems in place, your team can work with your consultant to develop and launch new and improved fundraising strategies.
Finally, a nonprofit fundraising consultant can bring accountability to your organization. Without ongoing engagement, it’s easy to slip back into bad habits that lead to errors and inefficiency. An outside consultant will help you stay on the right track!
Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Consultant
Just like any other organizational decision, choosing a nonprofit fundraising consultant requires some planning in advance. Your board and staff should do the following.
- Identify the scope of you project, beginning with your most urgent needs. For example, if you’re using Excel to manage donor data, migrating to donor management software should be a top priority. If you have a major campaign coming up or you’re changing course because of the pandemic, seek help in these areas as well.
- Determine what type of consultant is the best fit. Nonprofit fundraising consultants range from large and small firms to independent freelancers. Evaluate several consultants and get a sense of who fits your nonprofit’s needs and personality.
- Establish a tentative time parameter. Ideally, your consultant will offer different timelines for differing budgets. A one-time multi-hour meeting may suffice. However, ongoing engagement could be quarterly, semi-annually, annually, or project-based.
- Set aside time to work with the consultant. A consultant is not a forever employee. The goal is to learn from your consultant so you can fundraise effectively on your own. Keep in mind that your initial investment of time is likely to deliver a long-term payoff in terms of both fundraising and operations.
- Know your budget. Many of the considerations here will be based on your budget. Compare the services and prices of each consultant and see if they’re willing to customize based on your specific needs.
Remember, most businesses and nonprofits need outside help at some point. Bringing in a consultant doesn’t mean you have failed; it shows you are doing everything in your power to improve. If you want to advance your organization’s fundraising, consider partnering with a nonprofit fundraising consultant. The better your fundraising, the more can do to support your mission! Need help finding someone? Check out the Eleo Nonprofit Consultant Community.