How a Fundraising Consultant Can Rock Your Strategy
How do you know if you need a fundraising consultant? What services can a nonprofit 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 nonprofit consultant is a 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 eight 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.
- Conduct an executive search.
Keep reading to learn more!
1. Your fundraising consultant can help you 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. Nonprofit consulting firms 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, nonprofit 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 a nonprofit consulting firm 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 nonprofit consultant with first-hand experience and knowledge to suggest the best options for you.
2. Your fundraising consultant will give you a fresh perspective.
Maybe your nonprofit is looking to take your fundraising in a new direction. Why not bring in a nonprofit 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, a consultant 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 nonprofit 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. A fundraising consultant can help to 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 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 nonprofit 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. A fundraising consultant can 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 nonprofit consulting firm 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.
The bottom line: If you want to help your board members become better leaders, then you should consider hiring a nonprofit consultant to help train your leadership for success.
5. Your fundraising consultant will 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.
A nonprofit consulting firm 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 nonprofit 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.
Fundraising consultants can offer general fundraising counsel (like in the example we mentioned above), but they can also offer fundraising advice for specific campaigns, such as a capital campaign. Since capital campaigns are large undertakings, nonprofits often seek the advice of a consultant to help them plan a strategy as well as determine the feasibility of their campaign through a feasibility study.
While your nonprofit may have the resources to conduct a feasibility study on your own, it’s best to seek the assistance of a fundraising consultant because they know what questions to ask, can get honest answers from your supporters, and analyze the results objectively.
Even if you’ve made multiple strategies in the past, nonprofit 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.
Bonus: Interested in learning more about online donations? Check out our list of 9 types of fundraising software.
6. Your fundraising consultant will 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 nonprofit 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 nonprofit consulting firm 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. Plus, consultants are well-versed in management tools that can help organize every aspect of your event. Consultants can suggest tools with features—ticketing, venue and guest management, event marketing, etc.—that will help your staff save valuable time.
For example, let’s say your organization uses Salesforce as your nonprofit CRM. Your consultant is bound to have tips and tools that will make planning your event much easier. Since your consultant should have a deep understanding of your nonprofits infrastructure, she can suggest software that will seamlessly integrate with your existing tools.
Moreover, fundraising consultants have plenty of philanthropic connections, which can be beneficial to your fundraising events. 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 to help save you money and time.
Additionally, a nonprofit 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. Your fundraising consultant can 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 nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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. A nonprofit consulting firm 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.
8. A fundraising consultant can help you conduct an executive search.
Every organization reaches a point where they need to hire more staff to keep up with their growing needs. Let’s face it: from conceptualizing the role and responsibilities to searching for the right candidate to interviewing to onboarding, the hiring process can be stressful and time-consuming.
Luckily, a nonprofit consultant can help with these tasks so that you can find a qualified leader to join your organization.
Fundraising consultants will guide you through the entire process while offering their expertise to help find the perfect fit.
When you hire a consultant, your nonprofit will get help with every step of the hiring process, including services like:
- Search committee development.
- Application and interview management.
- Onboarding and training.
In addition to helping you find the right candidate, consultants can offer tips on how to market and promote your open position.
For instance, they might suggest that you post your job description on nonprofit job boards as well as social media, newsletters, and acknowledgement letters. Placing your position on websites that experienced professionals are job hunting on will help ensure that you get applications from the best potential candidates.
With that said, if you’re struggling to hire a development director, major gift officer, or prospect researcher, seek the help of a nonprofit consultant to make your search easier.
The bottom line: While fundraising consultants are best known for helping improve your fundraising strategies, they can also help you hire talented leaders to further enhance your organization.
Bonus: Our Top Picks for Fundraising Consultants
Aly Sterling – Top Consultant for Board Training
Aly Sterling is a great consultant for nonprofits who are looking to increase their fundraising capacity and grow their nonprofit’s outreach strategy.
- Fundraising solutions
- Strategic planning
- Executive search
- Board catalysts
Averill Fundraising Solutions – Top Consultant for Capital Campaigns
Nonprofits of all shapes and sizes can benefit from Averill’s intensive, hands-on project management style of approaching major fundraisers, as well as their expertise in conducting feasibility studies.
- Campaign direction
- Campaign planning and feasibility studies
- Annual fund direction
- Embedded staffing
For any nonprofit interested in stepping up their technology strategy, DNL OmniMedia can offer a wealth of services that include everything from helping nonprofits transition between systems to running fundraising campaigns.
- Nonprofit technical strategy
- Nonprofit web development
- Nonprofit marketing services
- Fundraising strategy
Donorly’s focus on research as the basis of all fundraising, as well as their emphasis on understanding and supporting a nonprofit’s specific culture and mission, have benefited nonprofits across the country as they run capital campaigns and other major fundraising efforts.
- Capital campaign management
- Board expansion
- Interim staffing
- Donor identification and cultivation
Morweb’s understanding of web design best practices, as well as their own content management system, help nonprofits to maximize their online presence and use it to optimize their fundraising practices.
- Content management
- Web design and development
- Search engine optimization
- Social media integration
Additional Nonprofit Consulting Resources
- 12 Top Fundraising Consultants (With Effective Solutions!): Start your search for the perfect fundraising consultant for you nonprofit with this definitive ranking!
- Hiring a Fundraising Consultant: 12 Essential Steps: Master the key steps to hiring and working with a nonprofit fundraising consultant!
- Crowdfunding Tips: Quick and Easy Ways to Raise More Money: Discover brilliant crowdfunding strategies you can put into action with your fundraising consultant!