If you’re considering hiring a consultant to help with your capital campaign, you might be interested in these questions that many people often ask.
Deciding on a consultant can be confusing! Who should you choose?
Answer These 7 Questions when Choosing Your Capital Campaign Consultant
1. Should you seek a local consultant?
We encourage you to look for a consultant from your own region.
While a consultant’s experience and expertise will trump other considerations, it’s less expensive and the schedule will be more flexible if you can find a consultant within an hour or two’s commute.
2. Is it necessary to vet consultants in person?
Yes, we strongly advise that you meet with all prospective consultant candidates in person.
Your consultant will be meeting with your largest prospective donors who are also (for this campaign) your most important contacts.
You want to make sure that the person you send to them passes muster. They’ve got to look right, smell right and speak right. I know that sounds funny, but really, you’ll find a wide range of styles and not all Of them will fit with your organization.
If need be, you can even offer to cover or share the direct expenses of consultants who come in from out of town to meet with you.
3. How important is comparable experience?
While it would be good to have someone who understands the unique culture of your organization, we’re not so concerned about the need for extensive experience with other campaigns exactly like your campaign.
You’ll want to select a consultant who has LOTS of campaign experience combined with extensive experience as a consultant.
You don’t want to hire a consultant whose only campaign experience is as a staff member in one or two campaigns — no matter how big or prestigious the campaign they participated in!
Let inexperienced campaign consultants learn the basics of their trade on someone else’s dime. You’re paying the big bucks for experience, not charm!
4. Is there potential for a backlash to out-of-town consultants doing a feasibility study?
Will donors respond negatively to “out of town” consultants? This raises two important points.
- You must prepare people to meet with your consultant and build credibility for them before they meet with your donors. You will send each person to be interviewed something in advance and plan calls to each of them to set up the visits. That’s a good reason for you to handle the scheduling of consultant meetings with your donors rather than your consultant.
- Donors will be happy to meet with consultants who are good at interviewing. Be sure you ask consultants about their interview practices.
Also consider whether they structure “conversational” interviews or if they use a form and a check list? How do they ensure that the conversations are productive and comfortable?
5. How much should you engage with the consultant before the formal interview?
We believe that you should get to know your possible consultants quite well. Sometimes you can do that better over a social dinner so you can watch them in action.
You will rely on their judgment often. So make sure you like them and can trust them.
Take your time to get to know your final candidate outside of the formal interview!
6. Should you engage other people in the consultant selection process?
You have good opportunities to ask people in your organization to help with the consultant selection process.
A small group might meet with two or three consultants (serially, not in a group) and give you feedback.
Or you might just invite one or another person to sit in on a consultant interview.
But be careful — people on your committee who are not experienced in fundraising may be impressed by the wrong things. Vet your selection committee carefully.
7. Does social media play a role?
You might want to check your consultants’ various social media (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) feeds to get to know them better.
You can find out a lot by taking a look at their posts!
The Bottom Line
We think you need to find someone who is well seasoned and experienced, but that person should also feel like the best “fit” for your organization’s unique personality and culture.
It’s an important decision, so take the time and effort you need to vet consultants thoroughly.
Learn more about selecting a Capital Campaign Consultant…
If you’d like to learn more about how to select a consultant, watch the recording of this webinar:
Your Campaign Consultant stories?
What kind of experiences have you had so far when choosing a campaign consultant? Share your stories in the comments below.