By Sara Lundenberger – Director of nonprofit consulting
Last week, our marketing and PR services manager, Kayleigh Fladung, wrote her blog post on a few problems a marketing consultant might be able to help you solve. But, here at Dot Org, we don’t just handle marketing – we are also fundraising consultants, who work with nonprofits on fundraising strategy, databases, policy and procedures and so much more.
When you hear the word consultant, I think most people conjure up a vision of strangers who have spoken to top leadership and then turned in some sort of report telling you how to move forward. Usually those reports get talked about a staff or board meeting and then are never addressed again. In worst case scenarios, some consultants may never get to know you or your organization before they tell you what to do.
We work a little differently here. We get to know our clients and our clients get to know us. We get in the trenches with you and often spend time in your office to really understand how your organization functions. Every organization is different, and we don’t believe a “one size fits all” approach ever works. This is why we offer services that we believe nonprofits want, need and above all else, help raise more funds.
So, what do we do?
- Provide “current state” assessment
We call it a Fundraising Readiness Assessment. This is a review of what you are currently doing to raise money. It includes looking at your staff and their job descriptions, strategy, plans, marketing materials, donor database and much more. It provides a clear, concise overview of the current state of activities. We talk about what you are doing well and what you can change to become even better.
These assessments are one of my favorite services we provide. After all, it allows me a chance to not only meet nonprofit staff, leadership and board members to get their take on what’s really going on (and let me tell you, I hear a lot), but it also lets me see how it operates as a development office and an organization.
Sometime, an outside perspective is all you need to make a few small tweaks or big changes to really make a difference in your fundraising operations.
- Think strategically
If you have read my other blogs, you’ll know by now that I am a planner – and we are such big proponents of strategy here. One of my favorite sayings is “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
It can be easy to push tasks off until, all of a sudden, it is too late to do anything. However, if you want to implement a larger annual fund, focus on online giving or rewrite your giving materials, you need to break it down in to small, doable pieces or you probably won’t get it done. Thoughtful strategy with measurable goals and metrics can take your organization from scraping by to financial security.
Our plans include achievable goals and objectives, but we go a step further to create an actual timeline, with due dates, for every step of the way. This provides an outline of what needs to be done and by whom, which makes it even easier to be accountable and check things off as you go.
Of course, we don’t believe a plan is ever finished and should always be adjusted based on the changes occurring in your organization. And we will help you with these changes and operations as they come along.
- Fix data
Data: the necessary evil in fundraising. Every organization has a database (if you don’t, you should*) that houses donor and donation information. This data can get unruly, especially for a small shop that might utilize volunteers or has high turnover. The more people that are in your system, the more problems arise.
We can help nonprofits clean up y their data, create policies and procedures for data entry, reporting, stewardship and anything else thy use a CRM for. (And, if you don’t know, we can even tell you what a CRM is.) Consistency is key in data entry and we can help organizations get usable, dependable data for their system or switch them over to a brand-new system.
There are many, many different CRMs out there. We understand that not one particular system works for all organizations. For example, a database that has too many bells and whistles can be overwhelming for a small shop, but a larger place might need more capabilities than what a small database can offer. We will find the CRM that works best for each individual client and meets their needs.
*Seriously—call us if you don’t and we can help you pick the best one for your organization and help you set it up.
While these are some of our main roles as fundraising consultants, we provide many more services . For example, we help develop case for supports and annual reports, consult with staff on-site, provide training sessions and write grants and manage grant plans. Overall, any fundraising initiatives out there, we can help you with.
Yes, we call ourselves as fundraising consultants – but, we see ourselves as so much more. We want to be your partner. We want to see you grow. And we want to see you succeed.
We are confident that we can help you.
Want to learn more about our fundraising consulting services? Contact us at [email protected] or 330.247.2180.