Ten Ways Consultants Can Help You
Sometimes it really does take money to make money. You may not need a professional’s advice for a book sale, annual fund, or a small fundraising project, but some kinds of fundraising activities can benefit from professional assistance. Capital campaigns, for example, can be very difficult to complete successfully without this expertise. How do you evaluate whether your library can go it alone, or if you need outside help?
- Just starting? A consultant can help you organize, plan, and set goals, helping you avoid problems down the road.
- Can’t afford another staff member? A consultant works on a limited contract, thus you only pay for what you need and for the duration of time that professional help is useful.
- Confused? A consultant can share experiences, both good and bad, to assist you as you make choices along your fundraising path.
- Is your head spinning with fundraising details? A consultant can redirect your thinking to the big picture when you get bogged down.
- At a loss for ideas? Consultants have connections to many kinds of resources you may need.
- Concerned about coordination? A consultant can facilitate processes by which your Friends, Foundation, and trustees can act together to strengthen your library’s fundraising efforts.
- Worried about board fundraising fatigue? A good consultant can energize your board.
- Need the truth? A consultant will provide objectivity, telling you things that library insiders won’t—maybe things that are hard to hear.
- Feeling doubtful? A consultant can keep you feeling strong and confident by problem solving and helping you maintain forward momentum.
- Losing sight of the end? Consultants will hold you to your stated goal.
Hiring a consultant doesn’t have to be scary or expensive. Good consultants are more than willing to negotiate fees to fit your budget or to work within your budget, whether it’s $1,000 or $75,000. Remember: all consultants are not equal. If you want to be successful at raising private funds for your library, it’s important to hire a consultant with fundraising experience.
Begin by talking to others who have used a consultant for fundraising. Ask questions. How did they find this consultant? What made them think this consultant was a good fit for their fundraising efforts? Was the consultant easy to work with? Did he or she meet expectations? Was the price for the services a good value? Was the fundraising effort or campaign successful?
After you select a consultant, be sure to draw up a memo or letter of agreement. That document is a two-way Agreement that spells out expectations, deliverables, responsibilities, fees, timelines, and terms of payment. Library fundraising is a team effort in every sense of the word. Raising private dollars successfully requires energy, along with a wide variety of skills, experience, and connections. Tapping into every group associated with your library and its community will bring you a rich bounty of talent and, ultimately, the rewards of fundraising success.