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Employing Professional Fundraisers

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 4 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Professional Fundraising Professional

As your charity expands, you may well begin looking for new ways to raise funds. You may have already pursued local community events, as well as more traditional marketing methods such as direct mail or email contact. You may, perhaps, be looking to increase your visibility and thereby garner new donors unfamiliar with your charity, but lack the resources to launch a national advertising campaign. In these cases, you may consider employing professional fundraisers.

Fundraising Methods

Professional fundraisers can perform a number of tasks, depending on the specialism of the business in question. Increasingly, 'professional fundraiser' is instantly associated with the individuals who crowd city high streets soliciting direct debit donations. However, this is only one aspect of professional fundraising; other companies offer telephone marketing services, door-to-door collections, or tailored direct mail campaigns.

In many cases, your choice of professional fundraising company and service will depend on your budget. Different companies will clearly have different payment policies, but it is not uncommon for professional street collectors to operate with no up-front fee, or with a nominal charge to cover the cost of things like branded jumpers. Rather, they will be paid a commission for each donor they successfully sign up.

This has some significant advantages; in particular, it means that there is no financial obligation and therefore very little for you to lose if the exercise is unsuccessful. However, commission payments can quickly eat into your donations - and, as explored in another article in this section, if the fundraising company demands payment for a certain period you can actually lose money in the event that a donor cancels their direct debit.

Researching a Contractor

It is also vitally important that you research each potential fundraising company before coming to a decision. You should remember that this company will be representing you in public; as far as the average person on the street (or the average person reading their post, depending on your chosen fundraising method) is concerned, this company and your charity will be one and the same.

You should therefore attempt to seek references or testimonials from other reputable charities before contracting a fundraising company. If you have personal contacts with other charities, use them - there is no reference more valuable than one from an individual or organisation that you trust.

You should also question the training and briefing policies of potential fundraising companies. How thorough is their briefing of their staff, and how long will each staff member spend working on your charity or campaign? Some professional fundraising companies deal with so many charities on short contracts that staff spend only a day on each one. Clearly, this is not enough to ensure that they are sufficiently well versed in your work to provide comprehensive answers to questions from the public.

As can be seen, hiring a professional fundraising company is not a simple task, nor is it one that should be taken lightly. Professional fundraisers do not suit every charity, and you should do careful research before jumping in.

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