So You Want to Hire a Professional Fundraising Consultant?

Christine Schaefer
June 24, 2014

Find out what you need to know before hiring a nonprofit fundraising consultant.

The saying goes “You’ve got to spend money to make money.” But how do you spend what you just haven’t got?

The thought of hiring a professional fundraising consultant has probably crossed your mind. After all, who better to bring in the big bucks than a team of highly skilled fundraising ninjas?

Fundraising consultants can help your refresh your nonprofit's strategy and suggest ways to make giving more convenient for donors. For instance, a consultant can help you find software that will improve your fundraising efforts

But maybe we should modify the original saying to this: “You’ve got to spend money wisely to make money in the long run.” Any decision about spending should begin with some serious evaluation.

Start by considering a few questions:

  • What are your fundraising goals?
  • How much money do you hope to raise and how many donors do you expect?
  • What is the most effective and realistic use of your resources?
  • Can it be done by someone your organization is already employing?
  • Do you have the skills necessary to ensure fundraising success?

You’ve probably guessed that there are pros and cons to both hiring a professional fundraising company and using in-house expertise. Consultants are highly experienced in what works and what does not work in your field and can help craft a fundraising plan that guarantees results across your website, email, social media and other platforms. But, their expertise can be costly to your organization. You need to weigh the options and decide if the upfront cost of hiring a consultant will be worth it in the long run. 

Need help with fundraising? Our software can help you strengthen supporter relationships and exceed fundraising goals. Before hiring a consultant, request a personalized demo of Salsa to see how you can easily build and launch powerful campaigns in our all-in-one platform. 

The argument for utilizing your in-house expertise is simple: to save money. It wouldn’t be cost-effective to bring in a consultant to complete a job that could be done by someone your nonprofit is already employing. In-house creative teams that focus on fundraising can save money, but that is meaningless if they cannot produce the results you are looking for. You want to develop campaigns with high-quality and consistent content that engages donors and entices them to take action. If your internal team does not have the time, skill set or resources do that, then you might want to consider consulting companies.

A consulting company has experience working with other organizations to craft the perfect fundraising strategy for your particular organization.

When choosing a consultant, you have two options: a local or remote professional. Each choice has its advantages and disadvantages.

To help illustrate those factors, imagine that your organization is headquartered in Detroit, Michigan. A consulting firm that’s located nearby is most likely familiar with your organization and has plenty of connections in the city to help you raise more money for your cause.

In contrast, looking at just Detroit consultants may be limiting in the kinds of services they provide or level of experience they offer. Additionally, remote consultants can give you a fresh outlook on your fundraising that may have you looking at your organization's strategy in a different way.

Ultimately, deciding on a local or remote consultant or going with someone in-house depends on your organization’s needs and resources.

So, go ahead — talk amongst yourselves. Make sure the fundraising consultant route is really for you. It’s not a path for the faint of heart. No consultant is going to be able to deliver results if you’re not sure internally what results you actually expect to see. 

But after you’ve done some serious soul-searching, take a look at our list of nonprofit fundraising powerhouses — all Salsa partners, and each one capable of providing you with the expertise and success your nonprofit is looking for:

Aly Sterling Philanthropy - Aly Sterling Philanthropy is a full-service consulting firm that can help your nonprofit with everything from board governance to strategic planning to fundraising solutions. Led by consulting expert Aly Sterling, this firm specializes in building sustainable solutions and strengthening donor relationships so that your nonprofit continues to reap rewards long after your contract ends. Aly Steling has a proven track record, having helped nonprofits (like The Boys and Girls Club of America and Habitat for Humanity) raise millions of dollars!

Looking for more resources? Not sure which fundraising consultant service you should invest in? Aly Sterling lists additional fundraising consultant providers that may be exactly what you're looking for.

Averill Fundraising Solutions - From campaign direction all the way to embedded staffing, Averill takes care of everything. Averill consultants will work with you every step of the way through your campaign, beginning with feasibility studies. The firm also specializes in leadership workshops and retreats for your executives as well as your volunteers. Averill promises competitive pricing and a stellar return on investment, so you can sleep easy that you're getting a model of industry ethical practice.

DNL OmniMedia - For your technical consulting needs, turn to DNL Omnimedia. Whether you're looking for web development or an overall technical or marketing strategy, DNL can help you out. The company specializes in walking your team through Blackbaud Luminate optimization, and they'll even help you with your data migration. Plus, DNL OmniMedia is the go-to for analytics to make sure the data you collect is being put to good use.

PowerThru- If you’re looking for a full-service group of experts to help you create a strategy and implement it, this is it. They will help you with everything from list and social media community building to organizing supporter activism to online messaging, fundraising and even advertising. One of the great things about PowerThru is that you can decide how much help you want from them. They even offer training to develop your in-house talent, so you can learn to administer your own online campaigns. 

CDR Fundraising Group- The CDR Fundraising Group provides a wide range of services that are uniquely tailored for each of its clients. Their services include creating multi-channel, integrated fundraising plans, designing creative art and engaging copy for your messages, composing, testing and launching email appeals and online campaigns, and more. They also use analytics to focus on donor-driven behaviors, which help them to form your unique fundraising plan. 

Charity Dynamics- Charity Dynamics will provide you with expertise on results-driven campaigns, content development, cultivation, and donor acquisition. They use their expertise to provide services such as campaign strategy, multi-channel integration, implementation and execution, and more. Their expertise extends beyond just fundraising and engagement campaigns. They provide expertise and services in other areas such as: strategic consulting, platform expertise, event fundraising, and website design and development. 

These are just a few of our awesome partners that will provide you with the knowledge and results that fit your nonprofits’ needs. Don’t just take our word for it, do your research and talk with the consultants before making any decisions to see if these services are right for you.

Annual Development Plan Checklist


Topics: Fundraising Nonprofit Marketing
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