FAQ

Why should I hire fundraising counsel?
Fundraising counsel brings experience, expertise and objectivity to nonprofit development programs and campaigns. A skilled consultant offers recommendations to help improve your development program and encourages new ways of thinking that will help you get better results and facilitate effective use of your volunteers. Counsel can provide services that range from advisory only to the actual management of programs or campaigns.
What will a consultant not do?
Consultants will not directly raise funds for you or relieve key staff and volunteers of their fundraising responsibilities. As a rule, consultants will not “open doors” to wealthy people. Rather, they serve as a resource as you develop and cultivate a donor base. Projects usually succeed as a result of time and effort devoted by key volunteers and staff.
What criteria should I use to select a consultant?
Ask whether the consultant has knowledge and depth of experience in the specific development issues faced by your organization. Good consultants will listen to you and should respond in a confident manner, showing creativity and flexibility in their response. The consultant should have an interest in your mission and culture, and you should feel the “chemistry” is right for a good working relationship.
Is it important for a consultant to have experience with nonprofit organizations with a similar mission to mine?
There are certain basic principles of fundraising that hold true whether your organization is a small, social service agency, a medium-sized church, or a large museum. In any and all of these cases donors will only give if you ask, and they will want to know enough about the organization and the impact you have to trust that their donation will be put to good use. Previous knowledge of your cause can lessen the learning curve for a consultant, but it is not required to help develop an effective case for support, or to identify and qualify a roster of prospective donors.
What distinguishes McDonald Schaefer from other consultants?
We are a team of professionals who meet our clients where they are, truly enjoy and appreciate people who serve in the nonprofit sector and are not afraid to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Our diverse team of consultants offer a breadth of experience that is hard to find. Our consultants have worked with or at organizations of just about every size and serving a diversity of different constituencies. You can be sure that when something comes up there is a good chance someone on the team has tackled it before. With this level of experience, we know what it takes to succeed in the nonprofit sector.
What will counsel expect from me?
We expect the client to be clear and honest about the organization’s situation, objectives and challenges. Consultants are partners on a team with staff and volunteers, and we expect all players to uphold their responsibilities in the effort. Candid feedback, open communication, realistic expectations and respect for the consultant’s time and effort are also important.
How do consultants charge for their services?
Most consultants charge a project fee that is based upon several factors about your project such as: How much time will it take? What is the extent of services required? Are there special issues such as little or no prospect base, unremarkable past funding history, inexperienced staff, or lack of volunteer leadership? Consultants do not accept a commission based upon funds raised nor do they charge a standard overall fee. For a capital campaign professionally managed and directed, the total cost, including the consultant’s fee, can range from 5 to 15 percent of the campaign’s goal.
Why can’t I pay a consultant based on dollars raised?
Professional fundraisers subscribe to a code of ethics that precludes the possibility of personal gain in the philanthropic process. Fundraisers and development consultants cannot accept commission on gifts raised. To avoid a conflict of interest, gifts must fully benefit the organization/mission, not any particular individual.