Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to do to get ready for a campaign?
Success in any campaign rests on a foundation of good planning both for the organization and the fundraising effort behind it. We work with our clients to make sure that both the institutional and campaign planning efforts are ready for the demands a campaign creates. For more information, please click here to learn more about whether you are ready for a campaign and how our Firm can help.
How do I make sure our campaign stays on track?
We encourage our clients to include provisions in their budgets for ongoing counsel services because we know how hard it is to stay focused on a long-term campaign when there are many other urgent and important issues and challenges that you face every day. Having a partner in the campaign means you have someone outside of the day-to-day operations to help you troubleshoot and stay focused. We provide assistance in developing and implementing a campaign plan, recruiting and training volunteers, advising and guidance on top prospective donor solicitations, identifying a broader and deeper pool of prospective donors, and developing strategies that help prepare donors to be asked to give. We also provide advice to help strategically leverage opportunities during the campaign, anticipate and avoid problems and pitfalls, effectively manage volunteers, and address emerging challenges.
What should I look for in choosing fundraising counsel?
Ultimately the selection of counsel is a very personal decision and comes down to the right fit for you and your organization. We recommend asking others for feedback on their experiences, looking into references, and, most importantly, having several conversations with the firm to see if it is the right match. Be sure to interview the person in the firm who will be working with you most directly.
Will the use of fundraising counsel guarantee our success?
No. By carefully selecting a reputable fundraising consultant, you will receive advice on fundraising strategy and methodology that suits your organization based on best practices, but it is up to you to implement their advice and follow through on planned initiatives.
How do we know what to pay for professional fundraising help?
Talk to others who have experience with outside fundraising counsel before soliciting and reviewing proposals so you know what to expect. Most reputable fundraising consulting firms bill for their services by the day or the hour, plus travel and related expenses. It is important to have a written agreement spelling out your understanding of the consultant’s role, fees, and expenses, which you both sign to establish what you are paying for in terms of time and scope of service for things such as meetings, interviews, and expenses.
Why should we do a feasibility study?
A feasibility study is a critically important step in preparing for a campaign. Its purpose is to determine the readiness of the organization’s external audience to support particular strategic directions or initiatives that have emerged from the institutional planning process. The study itself is time-limited, usually taking about 6 months, and includes a consultant conducting a series of confidential interviews with a select group of the client’s closest friends and supporters. It is designed to determine whether the project being tested is compelling and exciting enough to donors that they would be willing to support it in sufficient numbers and with large enough gifts to enable a campaign to be successful.
At West Wind Consulting, we believe that feasibility studies can and should accomplish much more than testing the project and proposed campaign goal. That’s why we focus on the quality of the interview process to provide an opportunity for each interviewee to feel closer and more connected with your organization from the invitation to interview through the final follow up.
Why should we retain fundraising counsel?
Even the most sophisticated institutions use professional fundraising counsel as part of their campaign planning and management. By working closely with counsel, you benefit from specific technical expertise, the experiences of other institutions similar to your own, and an impartial perspective on strengths and weaknesses.
Counsel can serve as an additional voice of credibility with volunteer leadership in the decision-making process, help you set realistic goals and timeframes, and provide a breadth of experience with current practice and successful strategies that serve as a helpful complement to the staff’s knowledge of the culture and environment of their own organization.
How will I interact with fundraising counsel?
Ideally we work as a team together, and we adapt to your needs and style. We want to be a strategic partner in the planning process that you can rely on. Our role is to help guide you and gauge your progress as you implement your plans. Even the best of plans can change, so we’re here to help you navigate change and find the opportunities within it
How much time will a campaign require of our organization?
To ensure the success of the campaign, everyone across the organization will need to give it time and attention as well as endorsement. This means that it is given high priority at all board meetings, staff meetings and in all publications. While the specific commitment will vary from one institution to another, it ranges from a minimum of 25% of the chief executive’s time in smaller non-profits to 70% of the president’s time in major institutions. (Major institutions have larger staffs to carry operations, while the smaller organization’s executive director is apt to be more heavily involved in daily operations.) The development officer should give the campaign as much time as is humanly possible, but the requirement may run from 35% in a small shop to 90% in a large operation.
What are West Wind Consulting’s Billing Guidelines?
Consulting fees are based upon a per diem rate and clients are billed only for the actual number of hours spent on their behalf, even when an estimate is provided as part of our process. The per diem rate divided by eight hours is the client’s hourly rate. All invoices summarize the total number of hours worked and provide a detailed inventory of items.