Part 2: Does Your Fundraising Program Need a Personal Trainer?
Weigh each recommendation as if the money were coming out of your paycheck. Is this what's best for your employer long term? Is the recommendation based on solid reasoning, or is there a bit of profit incentive muddying the waters?
I'm sure I have angered a few consultants; the reality is, most of them are as passionate about helping you net more money as you are. But that isn't an excuse for you to give them carte blanche. The strongest work is a result of fundraising employees and fundraising consultants working side by side toward a common goal.
Your pet project isn't working and you refuse to admit defeat
Never hire a consultant to prop up a fundraising strategy that should be allowed to fade quietly into the sunset. If you've given it your best for long enough that it should be successful — and it still isn't profitable — let it go. I know it's like saying good-bye to your own flesh and blood, but sometimes the right thing is to cut your losses and put your budget and your energy into something else.
Just because a strategy works for another nonprofit doesn't make it right for yours. If you're convinced you've done everything right and it still isn't working, don't expect a consultant to show up with a pouch full of pixie dust and turn it into a winner. Get out your bugle, play "Taps," and then work on the next great strategy that is going to revolutionize your fundraising program. Use your consulting dollars to expand success, not to prop up programs on life support.
Sometimes, working for a nonprofit is exhausting. Positive reinforcement may be rare, public griping may be commonplace ("Unfortunately, our fundraising staff didn't raise enough this year for us to have a holiday party ...") and personal investment may far exceed your remuneration.
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.