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Expert Advice: When do you need a fundraising consultant?

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Karin Cox

Karin Cox

[Publisher’s note: This article was provided by Hartsook Companies, Inc., a full-service fundraising consulting firm. Hartsook Companies, Inc., is a PJ business partner.]

Karin Cox

No matter where you are in your professional career, engaging a fundraising consultant you trust, value and respect can be one of the most important decisions you make.

When you need advice, mentoring or support, a fundraising consultant can be invaluable.

Fundraising consultants are often engaged when organizations embark on a new venture, such as a capital, program or endowment campaign.

Other times, a consultant is needed when leadership is ready to take their organization to the next level through increased giving — annual  fund, major gifts or planned giving.

Need advice? 

The right consultant can provide insight, expertise and experience to help you develop plans for an appropriate course of action that is critical to your success.

Rather than deciding goals, timelines and benchmarks based on arbitrary, clever ideas (“We’re 10 years old, we should raise $10 million!”), a consultant will help develop recommendations and strategies for growing a comprehensive fundraising program driven by specific benchmarks and goals.

At the same time, an experienced fundraiser will guide you through the inevitable ups and downs of any effort as these recommendations are implemented.

Need a mentor?

An experienced consultant can serve as your personal educator and coach, provoking thought and activities that stimulate growth, impart knowledge, and develop skill.

And this benefits the institution: Research shows that when the fundraiser is competent, skilled, intentional and confident, philanthropy increases.

In a profession where experiential knowledge has traditionally been the sole source of fundraising education, a consultant mentor who has a current research and knowledge-based practice can gently challenge conventional wisdom.

By inviting discussion and asking questions, a climate that fosters growth, accountability and improved outcomes, is nurtured for organizational sustainability.

Need support?

A skilled consultant knows that confidence — or lack of — in plans, programs and people, can make or break a successful fundraising effort.

He/she can provide you and your board leadership with the confidence that you are on track, have the skills, and are working a solid plan that will lead to success.

As importantly, a good fundraising consultant knows how to build donor confidence so prospects know your organization is worthy of large gifts.

Communicating that others have demonstrated faith in the organization; the leadership and staff is prepared to accept and appreciate their gifts; and plans will be implemented as promised are all important confidence-building strategies.

A skilled consultant will provide the support needed to encourage and strengthen internal and external relationships to optimize fundraising success through skills, communication and leadership.

If you need advice, mentoring, and support to increase philanthropy for your organization, consider exploring a consultant relationship.

While other organizations are deciding that raising funds is too much trouble, the climate isn’t right, or the competition is too difficult, your organization will be deciding in favor of those you serve.

If your mission is worthy, deciding to raise funds to fulfill it is simply a matter of courage.

Are you ready to make a decision that can impact the future of the organization forever?”


Karin Cox, MFA, is executive vice president and chief creative officer at Hartsook Companies, Inc., a fundraising consulting firm.

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