As you prepare for a capital campaign, you will wrestle with the question of whether to hire a campaign consultant. And if so, what kind of a consultant to hire.
If you’ve never done a campaign before, you may have the misguided view that a consultant will actually conduct and manage your campaign. However, this is a major misconception.
It’s True — Capital Campaign Consultants Don’t Actually Do Most of the Work
With the exception of a few firms that actually place staff members in your development office to run the campaign, consultants don’t actually do the work.
- Campaign consultants don’t solicit gifts.
- Campaign consultants don’t identify donors who will give to your campaign.
- Campaign consultants don’t recruit volunteers.
- Campaign consultants don’t create campaign brochures.
- Campaign consultants don’t track gifts.
In fact, external campaign consultants don’t do much when it comes to actually running your campaign. Even when you’re paying a consultant a significant amount of money, you’ll find that you and your staff are still doing the work of the campaign.
So what DO consultants do? And how can they make a difference?
4 Important Qualities of Great Campaign Consultants
Here are four important qualities great consultants can bring to your campaign.
1. Deep Experience
Consultants worth hiring have a great deal of capital campaign experience. They know what works and what doesn’t. Through years of experience, they’ve developed an unerring sense about campaigns and what you should do to make your campaign successful.
Experienced consultants have seen all sorts of campaign successes and challenges. They have a treasure trove of examples and solutions that they can apply to your campaign.
Because of their deep experience, they speak with the kind of authority that makes people believe what they say. They can help mitigate divergent viewpoints among campaign leadership. And they can help get your board and staff members moving in the same direction.
A paid outside consultant brings a sense of discipline to you and your campaign. In a busy development shop, there’s seldom time to get all of the work done. You’ll find it all too easy to push off campaign work unless there’s a deadline.
A capable consultant provides deadlines. They schedule their meetings with you well in advance. And they’ll tell you what has to be done before those meetings. Many a consultant knows full-well that the day or two before they meet with you, you’ll be scrambling to get that work done.
They might check in with you between meetings to make sure you know what you’re doing and see if you have any questions. Or they may check in just to give you a bit of encouragement and make sure you’re on top of the work.
A consultant will provide a roadmap for your campaign. Because experienced consultants know how campaigns work, they can help you create a campaign plan that will fit your needs.
But most campaigns require flexibility along the way and your consultant can help you adjust your campaign plan to fit the on-the-ground realities. If the big gifts come in more slowly than expected, they’ll help you adjust expectations. And if an unexpectedly large lead gift comes in, your consultant can help you know how to shift your campaign to make the most of your windfall.
Finally, your consultant will give you courage. With a good consultant, you won’t have to make the big, scary decisions on your own. You’ll have a comrade in arms to discuss them with and to help you make the right decisions.
But Do You Really Need a Campaign Consultant?
At the Capital Campaign Toolkit, we know how powerful great consultants can be. We’ve all been campaign consultants for many years.
But now, with the Toolkit, we’ve created a more efficient and effective way to give you the things you’d get from a traditional campaign consultant – and at less than half the price.
We’ve taken full advantage of the remarkable technologies available today – easy access to on-line material and virtual meeting technology – and we’ve modernized the blueprint for getting the experience, discipline, direction and courage you need to run an effective campaign.
No longer do you have to pay for travel and long days on-site. Now you and your campaign leaders can have access to experienced campaign advisors through email and video conferencing.
On-site consulting is much less of a necessity.
Within the last five years, these technologies have not only become glitch-free, but they’ve gained broad acceptance. Our campaign advisors work virtually with people of all ages who have no resistance to videoconferencing. iPads and most computers come equipped with webcams that require no set up at all.
It turns out that many campaign leaders and committee members are pleased by the ease and efficiency of web-based meetings.
And the consultants on our Capital Campaign Toolkit team have embraced that format too. While it is sometimes important to be on site – to conduct a board and staff training, for example – our experts have found that they can virtually impart the four key elements of being a great consultant just as well (or even better) than when they are on-site.
Many of the experts on our team have decades of experience as traditional consultants. Some of them started their work with the Toolkit with a bit of trepidation, wondering if virtual meetings would be effective. But it didn’t take long for all of them to become enthusiasts!
Get the Right Expertise for Your Campaign
To learn more about how you can get the kind of expertise you need for your campaign, simply sign up for a free Campaign Strategy Session. We’ll learn more about your situation and determine how you can get what you need for your campaign at a fraction the cost.