Before I became a consultant, among other things, I served as General Chair for a congregational stewardship appeal. Task number one was to interview consulting firms. I had bad memories of that from my time as a parish pastor!
My first question and the question that I think is the best to ask when interviewing potential fundraising consultants:
“What is the largest gift you have ever personally given, to whom did you give it, and why?”
Our first consultant was a deer caught in headlights. He stumbled around for a few minutes, grimaced, and then told me about a $1,000 gift he had given once. I questioned him a few times and he couldn’t do any better.
The interview was over.
He had no integrity. You cannot ask others to become generous if as a consultant if you aren’t generous yourself.
How many times have you been scrambling at the end of the fiscal year because you suddenly realized you are short of goal? For most organizations, it seems this scenario is more the norm than the exception. Establishing benchmarks and measuring your efforts throughout the year can minimize that last-minute scramble.
For annual giving programs, there are 5 essential measurements:
- Amount of contributions for the current year—consider unpaid pledges and secured gifts separately
- Total number of donors for the current year
- Total number of donors increasing their support from the prior year
- Percent of donor retention from the prior year
- Number of new donors for the current year
For each of these measurements, it is helpful to compare them to the same data over 3-5 years to avoid abnormalities such as substantial one-time contributions or broad economic changes. Measuring these five areas provide a framework for donor assessment and fundraising efforts.