Hiring Fund Raising Counsel

Recently Michael McNeely, Abbey Group CEO, was invited to speak to nonprofit leaders about hiring fund raising counsel. His remarks are summarized in the following article.

Strategies for Successful Fundraising
Association News (04/05) Vol. 29, No. 4, P. 34 ; McLaughlin, Laurie

Fundraisers often overwhelm staff members or volunteers, resulting in a need to hire a consultant or someone specifically to handle fundraising. The Nebraska Humane Society, for instance, hired a management firm called The Abbey Group that specializes in charities. Judy Varner, president and CEO of the society, notes that consultants can offer ideas to the board that association executives cannot. The Abbey Group’s owner, Michael McNeely, urges organizations to consider things like the development experience of a consultant in the association’s field prior to hiring one. He adds that it is important to know beforehand exactly who will be serving as the firm’s liaison. Consultants should also have had experience in the corporate arena and have worked with corporate leaders. Both consultants and dedicated staff members should be familiar with the processes of fundraising, conducting the necessary research, and be able to expand relationships with corporations. McNeely says a $1 million campaign is the conventional minimum when hiring an external firm to manage fundraising; it is considered unprincipled if a consultant works on commission. McNeely say consultants are paid a fee regardless of whether goals are met or not, and a 30-, 60-, or 90-day mutual cancellation option can be selected. Finally, the cost of a campaign is typically measured by the “cost of raising a dollar,” which should be 20 cents on the dollar or less, he says.


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