How do you know if you need a fundraising consultant? What services can a consultant offer?
In this article, we’ll go over some of the ways a fundraising consultant can help your nonprofit, but first, let’s define what a fundraising consultant is and what role they’ll play in your fundraising.
A consultant is a nonprofit professional with the knowledge, skill, and experience to help you reach your fundraising goals. Consultants can work with your nonprofit to come up with strategies that cater to your needs.
Additionally, they offer you services to help fill in the gaps when it comes to running a specific campaign.
Now, let’s go through seven ways a fundraising consultant can help your nonprofit:
- Find fundraising software.
- Give you a fresh perspective.
- Research your supporters.
- Train your board of directors.
- Map out your fundraising strategy.
- Plan fundraising events.
- Create a donor stewardship plan.
1. Find fundraising software.
Imagine that you’ve decided to host your first crowdfunding or peer-to-peer campaign, and you know you’re going to need a platform to host your fundraiser. However, you’re not sure where to start. You probably have questions like:
- What features will I need?
- What is the best platform to use?
- How do I create my campaign?
Your nonprofit could always spend time researching crucial features and the top crowdfunding platforms. But is that really the best use of your time?
That’s where a fundraising consultant can step in. Consultants have experience working on different kinds of fundraisers, so they can suggest software that they’ve used (and found successful) in the past.
Not only can fundraising consultants help you with finding the right software, but they can also teach you how to use it.
Even if you’re familiar with fundraising software, a consultant can still help you with:
- Setting up new software – There is more software out there for nonprofits than we have time to name here so I’d suggest checking out an article that explores the topic more deeply like this one.
- Migrating your information – For simple migrations, we suggest working directly with your CRM provider if your migration is simple. For complex migrations, consultants are the best route to go with.
- Suggesting a payment processor – We recommend either going with an aggregator or with a dedicated merchant account depending on your organization’s size and amount of donations processed. In terms of dedicated payment processors, try to find someone that specializes in nonprofits and understands the commons challenges that arise with fundraising like iATS Payments.
- And so much more!
No matter what level of software knowledge you have, a consultant can offer solutions to your challenges.
The bottom line: Don’t spend your valuable time searching for the right software to enhance your fundraiser. Use a consultant with first-hand experience and knowledge to suggest the best options for you.
2. Give you a fresh perspective.
Maybe your nonprofit is looking to take your fundraising in a new direction. Why not bring in a consultant that can offer you fresh ideas? Instead of hiring someone on full-time, you can hire a fundraising consultant for a single project.
Experienced consultants have worked with many different organizations and know which fundraising ideas work. In fact, some of those ideas may be unique, creative suggestions that you never would have thought of on your own.
As an outsider, consultants can look at your nonprofit through the eyes of potential donors. Not only does this help you improve the fundraising experience, but it can also help you improve your:
- Donor engagement and stewardship.
- Different giving channels.
- Fundraising events.
- And so much more!
When you have a better understanding of what a donor wants, you’ll be able to answer the questions that many donors will have when they consider supporting your cause.
You may not be comfortable with every suggestion a consultant makes, but be open to their advice. Who knows? You might discover a new and effective approach to fundraising!
The bottom line: A fresh perspective may be exactly what you need to revive your fundraising and create new and unique ways to encourage donors to support your mission.
3. Research your supporters.
Whether you need help with prospect research or understanding your donors’ giving behaviors, hiring a fundraising consultant is an effective way to gain valuable insights into your supporters. If you don’t have a prospect researcher on your nonprofit’s team, you can hire a fundraising consultant to help you gain knowledge on your donors.
In fact, there are nonprofit consulting firms whose entire focus is on gathering your supporters’ data and creating donor profiles.
Additionally, one of the most common services that consultants offer is a feasibility study. The study can help your nonprofit figure out if you have the means to run a successful fundraiser. The study also includes prospect research, which helps nonprofits identify major gift donors.
In addition to learning more about your prospects, a consultant can also help you analyze data on your supporters’ giving habits. The data that you gain from your supporters will help you improve your fundraising, solicitations, and engagement. With this information, you can tailor your fundraiser to meet your donors’ preferences.
For example, if you find out that a good percentage of your donors give through their mobile devices, you can create an event that focuses on mobile giving or that encourages donors to use their phones.
The bottom line: Researching your donors is an important step in the fundraising process. With the help of a fundraising consultant, you can gather and analyze the data that can inform your approach.
4. Train your board of directors.
Good fundraising starts with a strong leadership team to help guide your nonprofit in the right direction. With a well-trained and motivated board, your nonprofit can:
- Solicit donations from major donors using your board members.
- Have the right guidance and leadership to achieve your goals.
- Be successful in your future fundraising.
The approach that a consultant will take to train and ignite your board members will be different depending on the consultant. However, you should look for training that includes three factors:
- A comprehensive evaluation – Even before your consultant starts training, he or she should review your board and your nonprofit to see what areas need the most work. That way, you get training that is specifically tailored to your nonprofit’s needs.
- A detailed board work plan – The plan will describe the changes that need to be made and how you and your board can put those improvements into effect.
- New practice implementation – Don’t pick a fundraising consultant who just gives you the strategies to improve your board of directors. The consultant should help you put the new practices in place so that you aren’t making these changes all on your own.
With a consultant by your side, you’ll be able to to train your board so that they can help guide your nonprofit.
5. Map out your fundraising strategy.
One of the most important parts of fundraising is the strategy or approach you use to raise the funds. While fundraising is not new to you or your nonprofit, you may need help creating a plan that is more effective and helps you reach your goals.
Remember that your strategy isn’t just for you, but it’s also for your entire staff and volunteers, so your strategies should be easy to understand.
If you want guidance on how to create a strategy, a consultant can align your goals, budget, and available resources to create a plan that will put your nonprofit on the right track.
A fundraising consultant can help you create a strategy that:
- Establishes your priorities and vision.
- Empowers your team.
- Maps out the steps to reach your goal.
Consultants can not only help you create a plan, but they can also help you implement it. If you’re not sure where to start, they will provide you with the necessary steps.
For instance, imagine that your organization wanted to expand its giving methods. A consultant might look at your current fundraising strategy and advise you to start accepting more online donations because your donors are asking for more convenient ways to give.
In addition to recommending online donation tools, a consultant might also suggest ways to improve your current giving methods. If your donation forms aren’t mobile-responsive or have a lot of required fields to fill out, a consultant will likely urge you to fix those components so that you can maximize your donation form’s potential.
While this is just one example of how consultants can help your organization, there are many other ways they can improve your fundraising strategy and help you succeed.
Even if you’ve made multiple strategies in the past, consultants can still be a helpful resource. They can give you a different outlook on your fundraising and identify challenges that you never considered. Plus, they can offer you best practices to make your fundraising strategies even better!
The bottom line: To have a successful fundraiser, you need a solid strategy in place to ensure that your nonprofit goes in the right direction. A fundraising consultant can help you create a plan that will take your fundraising to the next level.
6. Plan fundraising events.
If you’re handling a new type of fundraising event or one that requires a lot of work to run, you can hire a consultant to help you manage it. That way, you can focus on interacting with donors and raising funds.
A fundraising consultant can help with your event from start to finish, whether that entails creating a strategy for your campaign, helping you train your volunteers for the event, and/or creating marketing materials. Of course you can hire a consultant to complete one or two tasks or help with your entire event.
Fundraising consultants have the strategies to plan and execute an event that will help you raise funds and stay on budget.
For instance, if you want to host a charity auction, which requires a lot of planning and funds to host, your consultant can help you find businesses that offer in-kind donations and event space.
Additionally, a consultant can assist you with more than just planning for your campaign; they can also help you with the engagement that happens during and after your event.
The bottom line: Fundraising consultants can help you plan and manage your event so that you can focus on more important things like reaching your goal!
7. Create a donor stewardship plan.
After you’ve reached your goal, you can now celebrate your success, right? Not quite. After your fundraiser is over, you have the opportunity to start cultivating relationships with your donors, and a fundraising consultant can help you even after all the funds have been raised.
That’s what makes working with a consultant so great; you can continue working with them to improve your stewardship and your next fundraising endeavors. The relationship never stops (if you don’t want it to)!
Here are few ways a consultant can help you with your donor stewardship:
- Create a plan of action for how you’ll reach out to donors.
- Design and write a welcome packet that you can send to first-time contributors.
- Suggest other ways for your nonprofit to interact with supporters.
- And so much more!
A consultant can help you create the best cultivation strategy for your nonprofit. For example, your consultant may help you draft emails that you send to donors after they’ve made a contribution.
Stewardship is an important part of the fundraising process, but it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Effective stewardship doesn’t have to be overly complicated. As Brady Josephson explains, donor stewardship boils down to two things your nonprofit can do: know and care for your supporters. Consultants can help you figure out practical ways to both learn more about your donors and show you care.
While donors may support your nonprofit once, with the proper stewardship plan, your donors will want to support your cause in the future.
The bottom line: Fundraising doesn’t stop once you’ve reached your goal. A fundraising consultant can help you take the necessary steps to start establishing relationships with donors after the fundraiser.
Bonus: Our Top Pick for Fundraising Consultants
A full-service consultant, Aly Sterling has experience working with many different types of organizations. The strategies that she implements focus on building sustainable solutions to boost fundraising and empower nonprofits’ board of directors.
Aly Sterling can help your organization create a fundraising strategy, train your board and staff, and perform a feasibility study.
If you’re interested in hiring Aly Sterling, she focuses her services in the following locations:
Not located in one of these cities? That’s okay! Aly Sterling is open to helping nonprofits no matter where they’re located.
Hiring a capital campaign consultant can be a helpful way to amplify your fundraising and find strategies that will help you be successful.
If these seven ways got you interested in working with a consultant, you can start your search today. Not sure where to start? Look at these top fundraising consultants to start your search.