It happened again yesterday. Another call from a potential client who wanted to hire a Jewish fundraising consultant and wanted to know how many new donors I could bring him. We spent a good amount of time talking, but it became clear to me that he did not get it. All he really wanted was the easy answer. All he really wanted to know was how many dollars my friends and contacts would give to him.
Last week I had a much more fulfilling conversation. Of course it started in a very similar way. A potential client wanted to know how many new donors I could bring her organization. Virtually every potential client asks the same question. The only difference between them is whether they are willing to learn or not. In this case, she was open to learning. In our conversation I was able to teach her that between her rolodex and the rolodexes of her board, she already had more potential major donors, in fact, many times the number I could provide.
All too often charities are looking for the quick fix, the easy way out. The easiest way out is for someone else to do the work, to have someone else bring the donors. But that is not reality. No one has connections to as many potential donors to your organization as you do. Really.
The job of a professional fundraising consultant is to show you how to turn all that potential into donations. How do you energize your board, teach them to open their databases and to use what and who they already know to benefit the organization they care enough about to offer their time and energies to your board? That is what I do. I might even tell you in a future post how I do that, but for now just trust me that it can be done and we do it all the time.
The problem with the easy way out is that it often costs you more than you think. First you end up paying someone who promises to bring you donors, and ultimately they probably don’t. If you are lucky they will bring you one or two, but usually they don’t. Secondly there is another truth which costs you: that if someone is willing to give you their contacts, they will leave your organization with yours. Think about it, where did they get their contacts? Working for someone else. Sure, if they worked with a donor for an extended period of time, it is natural to build personal as well professional relationships. But ultimately the fundraising relationship is built for the benefit of the client or employer. If it is not, then you have a serious issue with integrity that you really don’t want to have to deal with.
So ultimately, the key to hiring a professional Jewish fundraising consultant is to hire someone who sounds like he knows what he is talking about. He probably does. And if he writes about what he knows and is willing to share that wisdom on his blog, well, he’s probably the guy you want on your team.