Finding the right consultant for your capital campaign can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience hiring consultants. And hiring a great campaign consultant — one that’s a good fit for you and your organization — is quite possibly one of the most crucial decisions you can make toward your campaign’s overall success.
With that in mind, after more than 15 years of experience working with nonprofit leaders who have struggled through the process of hiring a consultant, this post offers my key takeaways.
First Off, Avoid Requests for Proposals
Unless you are at a big institution which requires an RFP (request for proposal), don’t use one.
An RFP process often alienates the best consultants. Those who are busy and have a steady pipeline of clients won’t bother completing an RFP.
Not only that, an RFP process often forces nonprofit leaders to outline what they think they are looking for and forces a prescriptive process, rather than simply describing the need and allowing consultants to describe how they would help.
3 Steps to Hire a Capital Campaign Consultant
Instead of an RFP process, take the following steps instead.
1. Ask for referrals
Ask those in your area and at similar sized organizations who they used and about their experience. Once you have a few referrals, visit each consultant’s website to learn more.
Based on your initial research, pick three to five consultants to speak with. I’d recommend starting with a big national firm, a solopreneur, and us — Capital Campaign Pro, as we offer the advantages of working with both a firm and a solopreneur.
2. Schedule initial meetings
Once you’ve narrowed your list to three to five firms, schedule initial meetings. A good consultant will want to know about your organization, your fundraising capabilities, your staffing, your board, and your campaign plans, BEFORE offering a solution or proposal.
3. Schedule follow-up meetings
Narrow your list down to the top one or two consultants, and introduce them to your leadership team. Have your team prepare questions to ask consultants. Decide and recommend your top pick to the executive committee or board.
Lastly, let each consultant know about your final decision.
9 Questions to Ask a Campaign Consultant to Help You Decide
Here are a number of good questions to ask a prospective consultant or consulting firm during your hiring process.
- How many campaigns have you led / consulted on? What were the results?
- How do you work with clients? What makes a successful relationship, and what makes one challenging?
- What’s an example of a campaign that wasn’t successful and why?
- What needs to be in place for a campaign to succeed?
- What will be required of staff and board members?
- What should we expect of you?
- What will we accomplish in the first six months?
- What strategies do you have if a campaign gets stuck?
- How do you evaluate an organization’s readiness and chances for success?
Questions like this will help you determine which consultant or firm would be a good fit for your organization.
6 Criteria for Hiring the RIGHT Capital Campaign Consultant
You’ll be working with this consultant for two or three years — possibly more. So you want to make sure you’re comfortable with their style and manner of delivering information.
With that in mind, here are six criteria for evaluating each consultant and firm as you make your final decision.
- Responds in a timely manner:
Do they respond to inquiries in a timely manner?
- Writes well:
Are their emails and written material coherent and easy to understand?
- Presents well:
Do they conduct themselves in a professional way and come prepared to each meeting?
- You would enjoy working with this person:
Is this someone you could see yourself working with for the next two to three years?
- Your board members respect them:
Would your board members listen when the consultant provides information?
Cost will be a factor in your decision-making process, but don’t let this be the driving force behind your decision.
Picking someone because they are inexpensive or the cheapest option may come at the expense of the other criteria in this list. While you may decide not to work with the most expensive option, remember the scope of the cost in relation to the big picture and how much you’re attempting to raise.
Consider the Experts at Capital Campaign Pro
If you’re getting ready for a campaign, we hope you’ll consider using the team at Capital Campaign Pro for your consulting needs. Click here to sign up for an initial meeting to discuss your campaign strategy and learn how we can help.
Get the support you need to succeed.
With our approach, you get the support, expertise, and guidance you need — plus all the tools and materials — to make your campaign a success.