WHAT IS A FUNDRAISING CONSULTANT?
When asking this question, many people tend to believe that the role of a fundraising consultant is to help the company raise a lot of money for the nonprofit organization. However, the real job of a consultant is to help your nonprofit build strong relationships between you and your donors.
Sometimes nonprofit leaders think hiring a consultant is that magic bullet. Don’t have to fundraise, we’ll get the CONSULTANT to do it! So they think we’re going to go out and ask for all the money and take that onerous task off their hands. And what they really don’t understand is that a consultant is more like a coach. We’re here to guide, teach and help you to develop better relationships with your donors.
Once you get past that misconception, you can start to find your dream clients, who, hopefully understand what you’re really here to do.
WHY BECOMING A FUNDRAISING CONSULTANT IS A GOOD CAREER MOVE
Let’s talk about POWER! Are you tired of not having enough power at work? This is how the system is set up. Because if you have one job, you have only one stream of income. And that means the power flows to the boss, not you.
Thinking that you want to have more control over your day to day life, or work on more interesting projects? Be respected for your knowledge? Well, one way to get more respect is to become a consultant. You’ve got a lot to offer, a lot of knowledge to share, and if one client falls away, there are 5 other ones.
After years working in a nonprofit sector that didn’t value my work I decided that I wanted to use my fundraising knowledge, call my own shots and get paid more.
If you’ve started to get fed up too, being a fundraising consultant may be the next step in your career path. Curious about becoming a fundraising consultant? Well, here are some reasons to do it:
- If you’re tired of being ignored, fundraising consultants are paid more than being an employee. I have written an article on how you can recover from a toxic work environment. This is not something you’re in control of-don’t gaslight yourself if you are in a toxic work environment-when people expect you to work more than your proper hours, when they bother you on the weekends, and don’t give you a good structure, budget and options for conflict resolution. How do you know when you’re done? When you are dreading going to work, that’s a good sign you’re ready to go. Once you have healed emotionally and mentally, then you are in a better position to enjoy consulting.
- Nonprofit consulting is a growing field, with more than 25 thousand consultants in the USA alone, and that’s just the folks listed on LinkedIn. And there are 1.2 million non-profit organizations in the US. There’s enough business for all of us!
- You get variety in your work, new exciting things happen when working as a fundraising consultant. For example, want to take a nap or a bikeride in the middle of the day? Do it. Want to take a 6 week vacation? No one is stopping you. Want to go deep into a fundraising method and read 10 books about it? You will have the time and become an expert! Needless to say, your knowledge will broaden and deepen.
- On top of that, being a fundraiser is a great preparation for being an entrepreneur. You know how to do sales, marketing, how to do budgets, how to deal with people, how to make a plan for multiple sources of income and you learn how to be stubborn in pursuing your goals.
Here’s a link to the podcast episode I did with Holly Rustick about why becoming a nonprofit consultant is a good move.
HOW TO BECOME A FUNDRAISING CONSULTANT
Being a fundraising consultant is more about establishing relationships. In a conversation that I had with Mike Bacon from Bacon Lee and Associates, which you can read more about in this link, he shared the following points:
- Be proactive not reactive:
Meaning to go out and meet people. Professional organizations and certifications really matter. Belonging to professional organizations can give you better exposure to establish real connections and potential future clients.
- Establish credibility with a couple of good contacts:
Getting the right reviews and recommendations can open doors for you. If you want to become a fundraising consultant, receiving good references from other colleagues or people within the nonprofit sector is key to be exposed to new potential clients.
- Treat yourself like a client and market yourself:
There is a broad range of fundraising niches such as working an annual fund, doing capital campaigns, major gifts, planned giving, among others.
You can either specialize in one of these particular areas or work as a more generic fundraising consultant.
Curious about consulting? I would suggest you follow the next steps if you’re looking into becoming a fundraising consultant.
- Have a fundraising job so that you know what you’re doing even in small way:
The best way of learning anything is in the field court. If you’re looking into becoming a fundraising consultant, you definitely have to find a job within the nonprofit sector. This will allow you to gain more experience and learn how fundraising works.
I invite you to watch the following video where I talk about “How to break into the fundraising field”.
- Prepare to leave your fundraising job:
Once you have acquired the right knowledge or if you believe that you’re ready to take on the next step, then I suggest you leave your fundraising job while maintaining a good relationship with your organization. You can also ask for referrals or even be recommended for your next step in your career path.
- Start looking for someone who needs fundraising help:
You can start looking for a person or a small organization within your circle that might need help with their fundraising. Contacts are key and connections might be useful for potential new clients.
- Decide what kind of fundraising you like to do:
There are various types of fundraising roles and jobs depending on the size of the nonprofit. I have categorized them into:
- General (for smaller nonprofits)
- More Specialized (for larger nonprofit)
- Most Specialized (generally for universities, hospitals and large nonprofits)
Depending on the organization size the roles vary. I invite you to read more about the different kinds of fundraising and leadership jobs in my free e-Book called Your Nonprofit Leadership Career Path.
- Talk to them and ask what they need:
Trying to understand what people need help with is essential to do an efficient job and to achieve the results needed.
Remember that a fundraising consultant’s role is an advisor and coach to the organization. In order to provide solutions, it is important to identify the key problems or areas to be fixed.
- You’re officially a fundraising consultant:
Got your first client? You are now a fundraising consultant! Now you will get reviews and referrals from clients that can connect you to other potential clients.
On another note, I invite you to read this interview that I had with Linda Lysakowski where we spoke about her experience and anecdotes about becoming a successful fundraising consultant.
She gives us 2 main tips:
- Make your name the consultancy name.
- As a fundraising consultant you should focus on building strong relationships with your organization’s staff, this is your main goal and it will bring better results to the organization.
HOW TO ASK FOR MORE FOR FUNDRAISING CONSULTANTS
Make list of your desires
Inflation has increased in the past years and consultants should ask for an increase in their rates as well. I encourage you to take 5 minutes and ask yourself, what do you truly desire?
I invite you to watch this Episode on my Podcast “Asking for More for Consultants”.
Being a fundraising consultant is a great opportunity to keep growing in your career, try different kinds of causes, make your own hours, and challenge yourself. Don’t be afraid to take on your next step on your career path.
I invite you to watch this seminar I did with Tom Ahern on how to be a successful consultant.
You’re not alone if you want to build a biz that helps the world AND feeds your soul, book a call with me.
Check out my book on Your Nonprofit Leadership Career Path Guide.
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