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When to hire a fundraising consultant

If your nonprofit is experiencing any of the following problems, it’s time to hire a fundraising consultant.

Problem 1 – No one is responding to your proposals
If no one is responding to your proposals it is because of one of these reasons:

  • You have not formed a relationship with the funder and were not invited to submit a proposal, regardless of whether or not their application was open.
  • You did not understand how to align your work with their strategy within the proposal.
  • Your proposal is outside of the financial scope or requirements of the funder.
  • Your proposal was not written to a high enough standard.
  • You did not qualify for funding but submitted a proposal anyway.

A fundraising consultant will address these points by:

  • Give you an outside perspective on the root of the issue by assessing and providing suggestions for your case for support.
  • Work with you to correct your process and plan proposals and the required relationship building that must take place ahead of time.
  • Ensure you deploy your limited resources to the right funders and funding applications.
  • Examine the quality of your proposals and recommend suggestions.
  • Ensure that you qualify for funding and have a strong enough relationship formed ahead of proposal submission.

Problem 2 – You cannot find funders that fund what you do
If you cannot find funders, the cause is likely to be one of the following:

  • You do not have access to research tools that will show you information on potential funders.
  • You are not asking your networks for their ideas and contacts.
  • You are not brainstorming effectively within your area of expertise to determine the stakeholders that may fund your work.
  • You have not undertaken a landscape analysis to determine funders of similar organizations and their partnerships.

A fundraising consultant will address these points by:

  • Giving you access to their data and information on funders.
  • Help you ask the right questions from the right people to map out potential funders.
  • Work with you to understand your expertise and the stakeholders within it.
  • Analyze similarities and differences of other organizations, who funds them and why.

Problem 3 – You cannot retain your funders
If you cannot retain your funders is it likely that the expectations that you set for the relationship were not met. For example:

  • You did not pay enough attention to the funder.
  • You did not deliver on the stated impact.
  • You did not deliver the quality expected or in a timely, professional manner.
  • Your projects pivot beyond the comfort of your funders.
  • You are in a volatile market and have not diversified your funding sources.
  • You are not reporting back what you are achieving through their investment

A fundraising consultant will address these points by:

  • Identifying the areas of misalignment between you and your funders.
  • Assessing the market and your current audience to determine whether you should be focused on other market areas.
  • Providing concepts for activating new markets to diversify your funding.
  • Providing tools, templates, and guidance on how to report to funders and keep them engaged during the project.

Problem 4 – You are starting a new program / project that needs funding
When starting a new program or project you need to do the following things to secure funding:

  • Articulate a support case that aligns with your business plan and strategy, including how this supports your mission.
  • Detail out your budget for the program and project, and for your organization.
  • Explain who will do the work and how the project will be organized.
  • Make sure to include key dates, timelines, milestones and deliverables.
  • Prepare to explain why you and your organization should be the ones to do the work, and the qualifications you have that will make you successful.

A fundraising consultant will help you:

  • Build a case for support, strategy or business plan that aligns with your mission, vision, values, and objectives for impact.
  • Document the budget you need, timelines, and critical pieces of information that funders will require.
  • Interview and work with community leaders to build support for your new initiative.
    • This is imperative for building a case about why you, and your organization, should do the work.

Problem 5 – Funders don’t understand the importance of your organization does
If funders don’t “get it”, then you are likely falling into one of these traps:

  • Overcomplicating what you do and how you do it.
  • Not having a written mission, vision and values, or a business plan.
  • Not telling the story of your impact in a way that is easily understood.
  • Introducing a new topic or area of knowledge that is too unfamiliar to the audience you are seeking funding from.

A fundraising consultant will help you:

  • Simplify your message and articulate it in a way that resonates with your audience.
  • Write your case for support, clarify your mission, vision and values, and detail your business plan to give funders confidence.
  • Tell stories of impact about your current and previous work, and what you are positioning yourself to achieve in the future.
  • Ensure that you are engaging with the best audience for your specific message.

What do fundraising consultants do?

Planning

  • Strategic and business planning.
  • Prospect research, qualification and wealth screening.
  • Capital and comprehensive campaign feasibility studies.
  • Market research assessments and growth strategies.
  • Trends and targeted research areas.
  • Stakeholder engagement and interviews.
  • New fundraising vehicles:
    • Legacy giving (wills and estate planning)
    • Corporate (CSR) partnerships
    • Events and sponsorships
    • Foundation and government grant writing
    • Monthly giving
    • Gifts in memorium
    • Annual appeals
    • Major donor and philanthropist giving and special events
    • Third party fundraising
    • Securities, blockchain (cryptocurrency and NFT giving)
    • International giving
    • Stewardship and donor retention programs

Fundraising Preparation

  • Case for support development.
  • Campaign strategy development and implementation.
  • In-depth prospect research profiles with engagement strategies and metrics.
  • Building boards and campaign cabinets.

Training and Coaching

  • Training on fundraising best practices.
  • One-on-one coaching with fundraisers and organizational leaders.
  • Tools and templates for proposal, report, and grant writing.

Active Fundraising

  • Ongoing campaign guidance and support.
  • Grant and proposal development.
  • Event planning and execution.
  • Content development for communication with target fundraising audiences.
  • Solicitation planning and coaching.

Reporting and Evaluation

  • Funder stewardship and feedback.
  • Report writing and development.
  • Partnership evaluation metrics and reporting.
  • Funder re-qualification strategy.

How to find the best fundraising consultant for your organization

  1. Ask friendly organizations for recommendations and introductions.
  2. Request proposals from qualified consultants in response to your needs and evaluate those proposals through a framework that guides a decision.
  3. You can post RFPs on LinkedIn or CharityVillage.com along with your website and sharing on social media and with your organization’s contact network.
  4. Search for fundraising consultants online through organizations like CFRE International and meet with them one-on-one to discuss your needs and their approach.

Define your needs
Fundraising leaders and organizational executives should be asking themselves these questions:

  • Is our team effectively using data to drive our fundraising efforts?
  • Do we have a clear case for support and cases for our programs to be able to fundraise?
  • Do we have the capacity to maintain and grow our donor relationships sustainably?
  • Are we generating a strong return on investment for our time spent on grants and proposals?
  • Are we accurately predicting our fundraising capabilities and coming within range of our targets?
  • Do we have the right contacts and networks to meet new fundraising needs?

If you are not confidently saying yes to the above questions, it may be time to hire a fundraising consultant that can help you get where you need to be.


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