Posted , by Erin Phillips, Marketing Director and Campaign Consultant. Topic: Fundraising, Nonprofit Management.

The Curtis Group has been a member of The Giving Institute for nearly five years. Established in 1935, The Giving Institute has been the thought leader membership organization for fundraising consultants and nonprofit services firms. One of the many resources they offer to nonprofit leaders is a list of the eight steps on how to choose fundraising counsel. We wanted to share an abbreviated version of them for you here, and refer you to their website, for the complete document. It’s important for nonprofits to conduct their due diligence when selecting counsel.
Step 1: Identify Prospective Consultants
Once the board and staff leadership has affirmed the desire to investigate consulting firms, they should identify a pool of candidates through research and by asking board and colleagues for referrals. All members of the Giving Institute are required to go through an intensive screening and application process and we you can refer to their member list to help in your search.

Step 2: Conduct a Preliminary Screening
Request basic information from each firm and find out generally what kinds of services they provide. Then narrow the field to three or four candidates and arrange a face-to-face briefing with each.

Step 3: Request Proposals
Following the initial briefing, request proposals from the firms with whom you would consider hiring. Proposals should clearly state the costs, fees, services, and a preliminary schedule.

Step 4: Check References
Always ask for references and check them carefully. Ask the references if they would hire the firm again.

Step 5: Look for Good Chemistry
While the search for a consultant should be as objective as possible, personal preferences are part of every professional relationship and hiring decision. You want to be sure you and your consultant are a good “match.”

Step 6: Make Decision and Notify Candidates
Once your decision is made, notify all candidates. It is considered a courtesy to explain briefly the reasons for your choice to the consultants you did not select.

Step 7: Finalize Contract

The contract is very important and should be specific and detailed. This is the best time to uncover and define expectations or potential misunderstandings. Legal counsel should be consulted regarding appropriate terms and their use in the document. A complete list of recommended contract components is on The Giving Institute website.

Step 8: Check State Regulations
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. A summary of the state laws, including the addresses and telephone numbers of state regulatory entities, is available from the Giving USA Foundation at

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