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|How to Choose Counsel|
Listed here are the eight steps of how to choose fundraising counsel.
Step #1: Identifying Prospective ConsultantsOnce the board and staff leadership has affirmed the desire to investigate fundraising consultants or consulting firms, they can identify a pool of candidates via three main avenues.
Step #2: Preliminary ScreeningBasic Information: Request basic information from each firm. Find out generally what kinds of services they provide.
Detailed Information: Narrow the field to three or four candidates and arrange a face-to-face briefing with each.
Step #3: Request for ProposalsProposal Content: After the briefing, request proposals from each of the firms with whom you meet. Proposals should clearly state the costs, fees, services, and a preliminary schedule.
Step #4: Check ReferencesCalling References: Always ask for references; always check them carefully. Ask the clients if they would hire the firm again.
Successful and Unsuccessful Campaigns: Ask for three references from satisfied clients and one reference from a client whose goal was not achieved or where the firm or the organization resigned from the contract. Firms should treat the request for a reference from a less-than-satisfied client as standard operating procedure.
Step #5: ChemistryThere are many ways of understanding a subject and of applying that knowledge when making a decision.
Step #6: Notifying CandidatesNotify Everyone: Notify all candidates of your decision. It is considered a courtesy to explain briefly the reasons for your choice to the consultants you did not select.
Step #7: ContractsThe contract is very important and should be specific and detailed. This is the best time to uncover and iron out expectations or potential misunderstandings. Legal counsel should be consulted regarding appropriate terms and their use in the document. The following matters, as well as others recommended by the organization's board or legal advisor, should be elucidated in detail in a contract or a letter serving as a contract.
Step #8: State RegulationsCompliance: Most states require both charities and fundraising professionals to register and follow certain procedures before commencing a campaign. Make sure both the organization and the fundraiser are in compliance.
Summary of State Laws: A summary of the state laws, including the addresses and telephone numbers of state regulatory entities, is available from the Giving USA Foundation at www.givingusa.org.