Fundraising Service Providers (FSPs), Take 2
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.
I wrote an article talking about when hiring an FSP can fail; you can click here to read that from Today in Fundraising's archives.
The most important thing to remember is that when it comes to hiring FSPs, clear communication is critical. You need to understand their strengths and limitations as well as their pricing structure, and the FSP needs to understand your organization's needs and what you want to accomplish from the relationship.
Otherwise, the relationship is headed for failure, something this old dog has seen a few too many times.
One final note: If you send a question or comment to me at Pamela@pjbardeninc.com, I will try to answer it and may include it in my next column, as well.