What Nonprofit Consultants Don’t Tell You

We like helping nonprofits fulfill their dreams and realize their vision during capital campaigns.  We have seen a lot over the years.  Here are six tips that can save you time and energy when you consider whether or not to engage nonprofit consultants.

  1. We cannot help you raise millions of dollars from people who have never heard of you.  While we might be able to get you a meeting with one of the well-known philanthropic leaders in your community who you think “should give” to your nonprofit, the reality is, they probably won’t give to your nonprofit. Why?  Because having a similar mission isn’t enough to add you to the organizations in which they are invested.  They are probably courted by hundreds of organizations a year that have slightly overlapping missions to those organizations that they already support.
  2. Consultants are very expensive as administrative personnel. We can help you organize your systems, consider how the needs of the campaign will impact your current administrative staff, and even act as a temporary worker to help you understand what you might need in an administrative hire, but our fees are based on our extensive expertise and would be wasted on hours and hours of data entry.That is not to say that we do not help our clients update Google spreadsheets, create new methods for tracking and/or generate reports. But, if you wish your consultant could be with you full time, then draft a job description for a temporary worker. It will be beneficial to the campaign and your bottom line (which are inextricably connected).
  3. The initial contract is not the only time during which you will engage your consultants.  Contracts often extend beyond the initial contract for one of two reasons:  you have been successful and want to keep up the momentum with our guidance or you have lost momentum and are hoping to turn it around.  If you have lost momentum and are considering renewing a contract – take a long hard look at what you think will alter your circumstances.  Can you find new committee members, change volunteer leadership, or do something else that re-engages and re-inspires your organization?
  4. We can bring a horse to water, but we can’t make it drink.  Consultants can run a feasibility study, help create a list of prospective donors, help rate prospects, provide training in how to engage with donors and steward them into long-term relationships and contributions that fill the top of the gift pyramid, solicit gifts alongside capital campaign committee members when needed, and provide reminders of assignments.  We cannot set up all of your donor meetings, force you to make your follow up calls or replace the committee as the primary solicitors.
  5. Campaigns with nonprofit consultants are more likely to succeed because you do not have to learn every lesson by trial end error.  Experience (like Mersky, Jaffe & Associates’ combined 137+ years) is earned through the many, many nonprofits that we have helped as staff, consultants and as volunteers. Working with a consultant will help you raise more money towards your goal in less time.
  6. Consultants do not think they are the ideal consultant for every nonprofit. We know who we are and how we can help organizations.  Anyone who tries to be all things to everyone will end up be nothing to anyone.

If you are interested in learning more about our services and whether we would be a good match for your organization – email me at abigail at merskyjaffe.com