Fundraising Consultants Online
Should you use fundraising consultants?
Fundraising consultants: vital assets to your campaign or money-wasting middlemen? The answer, as with so many questions, is "It depends." It depends on your needs and how well you choose consultants to fit those needs.
Is it worth hiring consultants?
If you're raising money on a relatively small scale, that is, less than a few hundred dollars, it is unlikely that hiring fundraising consultants will be worth your while. Their fee may well cost more than what you hope to achieve. Also, raising smaller amounts of money usually means that your fundraising campaign will be more manageable and easier to plan yourself.
Fundraising consultants are mainly used by those non-profit companies and organizations that are fundraising on a larger scale. Most organizations take the decision about which consultants to use very seriously. The decision-making effort expended in choosing a fundraising consultancy has been compared to that of choosing a permanent employee. After all, if you find a company that fits your needs, you may end up using them for more than one campaign, and your business relationship could last years. Some people take the rather extreme step of hiring a consultant to help them choose their fundraising consultants!
How to choose fundraising consultants
When choosing fundraising consultants, look at the scope and focus of the potential companies. Some companies are national, others cover a state or region, while others are one or two-person businesses covering only a small area. So does size matter? Some people say that it does, while others argue that the company's reputation for delivering results is what matters. A national company will almost certainly have more resources than one operating in a single state, but will it have the local knowledge you need to target your campaign properly? Will a national company take your local campaign seriously, given that it probably doesn't need the business? You need to consider these questions when you're making your decision. Also, remember that not all national companies are huge, faceless behemoths. The Internet has made it easier for smaller companies to have a wider scope, so you might be able to find a national company which specializes exclusively in enabling clients to raise money for pre-school education programs, for example.
How to find them
As for how to find the consultants in the first place, they may well get in touch with you before you even start looking. Most switched-on local consultancy firms will have a marketing department that will send out mailings to likely-looking organizations. Local business directories, both online and in print, will help too, but don't bother with Yellow Pages, as they don't list "fundraising consultants" as a category in itself and you will waste a lot of time following up dead ends.
Making the final choice
When you've got your shortlist, it's time to meet with them. You should ask them what services they offer and how much they cost. You should also ask if they're certified (see our page on the association of Fundraising Professionals for information about certification) and how much experience they have. While talking to them, you should be trying to get a feel for how focused they will be on your organization and your cause. The company that gets your business should be the one you feel is most in tune with your needs and your budget.