Making the Most of Your FSP Investment
Secondly, a large firm has a variety of experience on its staff. If you negotiate a lower price, you may have access to less experienced people. That could be fine, but you need to know what you’re “buying” as you discuss pricing.
2. Using an FSP can be a wonderful investment for your nonprofit. An FSP can help you do something that you don’t have the time (or expertise) to do yourself. FSPs often look more objectively at your programs and help you “repackage” them in more compelling ways. They can help you better target your message to smaller segments of donors.
3. An FSP can challenge the status quo. Sometimes we hire an FSP because we want change — but when we see what change looks like, we panic. It’s easy to get in a comfort zone and start saying things like, “Oh, but our donors are different …” and “Our donors would never go for that.” The FSP you choose should have depth of experience and a good handle on the overall fundraising market. But if you don’t trust your FSP’s people, you won’t truly benefit from their knowledge.
4. FSPs will only be as good as you let them be. Withholding important information (often unintentionally), taking a committee approach to editing or ignoring best practices are all within your purview, but they will make your investment in your FSP less effective. Make sure you are ready to let go a bit before you invest in outside counsel. You’ll want to share information about your donor profile, past successes and failures (and believe me, we all have them!), organizational foibles, and the unnegotiables.
5. An FSP is not a cure-all. Mission creep, a lack of vision, poor program performance, an aging donor file or a myriad of other issues need to be addressed, but simply throwing an FSP at them won’t make them go away. An FSP can help you identify these problems and work out solutions, but things won’t really change unless your NPO has the organizational fortitude needed to bring about the transformation.
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.