Essentials for Fundraising Campaign Success
Without research, any fundraising project becomes shoot-from-the-hip and cookie-cutter. With research, you are able to really achieve your potential—and ensure fundraising campaign success.
It comes as no surprise that we are huge advocates for conducting campaign feasibility and planning studies. Call them what you would like, but it is the essential research and benchmarking that determines campaign readiness. In the next Bedrocks & Beacons, I’ll share more about the benefits of a study.
Several times a year, we are approached by nonprofits asking us to submit a proposal for campaign counsel where another consulting firm has conducted the study. The time to “shop around”—if you feel this is necessary—is before the study process. We do not provide campaign counsel for a project where we have not conducted the study. When we get these calls, we ask if they were pleased with their study counsel. Most often, the answer is yes. We then encourage them to stick with that firm.
Without the essential insight garnered in a study, it should be impossible for a consulting firm to provide a firm cost for campaign counsel. However, they should be able to provide a range of fees to help you in that evaluation. Frankly, we find that the range of fees are typically similar for comparable firms. Inevitably, a sole proprietor or loose collaboration of consultants can charge far less than established firms. The difference between a sole proprietor and an experienced firm is that a firm can offer a range of talents, services and skills rarely found in an individual.
Each year, we learn examples of where a client—typically ones who have never run a campaign or do not have a CEO or chief development officer with solid major gifts or major campaign experience—shop campaign counsel after the study and go with a lower priced option. Most often, the campaign either never hits the goal or drags on for years. Too often, the result is a higher cost in the long run.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.