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Here’s Why Your Alumni Association Needs a Fundraising & Alumni Engagement Consultant

    

At a certain stage of development, every organization will outsource some responsibilities.

In agriculture, Tyson Foods, Inc. works with local farmers to grow its chickens.

In the postal industry, USPS has contracts with FedEx and UPS to carry their mail.

And numerous Fortune 500 companies outsource their advertising and marketing to agencies across the country.

Why?

Because growth means limited time.

As your organization expands into new endeavors, you won’t always have the time to learn the ins and outs of a new territory.

But contrary to popular belief, outsourcing can be a very good thing—particularly for the success of your alumni association.

By stepping away from peripheral responsibilities and delegating your internal marketing to an experienced fundraising & alumni engagement consultant, you’ll be able to draw critical insights from an expert, prevent operational mistakes, and dramatically improve the efficacy of your organization’s fundraising and communication efforts.

Here’s why you should partner with an expert.

You won’t always know if your plan will work

We all know the feeling of a breakthrough idea.

It just clicks. You can see it in your head. And you can’t imagine a world in which that idea fails—it’s perfect.

Unfortunately, about 100% of the time, this is false.

No plan is perfect.

A plan can be perfected, but even then, probability, luck, and Murphy’s Law will come together to make sure something goes awry.

As a result, without an objective third party to scrutinize the event plans—meaning someone with the experience to ask the right questions—it’s impossible to plan for every eventuality and properly prepare.

Here’s where a good consultant comes in:

They’ve seen your idea and everything that’s gone wrong with it a thousand times over.

A good consultant can tell you what events work best for soliciting donors, how to communicate with your alumni without being too pushy, and how much you should request from each donor—or if you should ask for a certain amount at all.

You can avoid costly mistakes and reduce risk

Whether you’ve run hundreds of fundraising campaigns or this is your first one, they’ll all share this in common:

There will be waste.

In an email newsletter campaign, if you send an ineffective or poorly personalized email to the wrong recipient (e.g. you resend a donation request email to a member who already donated), you may lose subscribers.

In the same vein, if you’re throwing a banquet event meant to solicit donations, and you overspend on the venue or caterer because you thought you’d get a larger turnout, you’re actively flushing money down the toilet.

However, as we’ve pointed out above, running an event or campaign isn’t an exact science. Even with years of experience, you can’t predict everything—and those unpredictables typically turn into unexpected costs.

Although a few costly mistakes here and there can be negligible to your bottom line—in most cases, miscellaneous costs are accounted for in the budget—it’s the big costs your association has to worry about.

These big costs are the bad ideas that will never work.

The kind of endeavors that can lead to thousands, tens of thousands, or more, lost forever.

And those losses can hurt—your organization and your reputation.

Here’s where a good consultant comes in:

They’ll help you vet ideas and separate the good from the bad. The campaigns, the fundraising events, the engagement plans. Where a good consultant comes in is the forming and execution of a solid—and refined—strategy.

Your goal is success. So, whether your initiative is fundraising or building better engagement among alumni, give yourself an extra set of eyes on a given plan before you hit play—your plan may just need a second draft.

You’ll need a source of honest feedback

You’ll need a source of honest feedback

In most cases, it’s very difficult to be honest with the people we care about.

When we establish a relationship with someone, we’re more empathetic to their feelings. We know that criticism can hurt them—especially if it’s coming from someone they trust. As a result, it’s just easier to remain quiet if we see them going down the wrong path. It’s easier to let them learn on their own, support them when they fall, assist them when they get back up.

The reality here is that thought-pattern is exactly what your fellow alumni association members are thinking when you’re putting forth an idea or initiative they believe is bad or don’t believe in.

They’re sitting back, nodding, and waiting for it to fail.

In business, we call these people “yes men,” and they’re often associated with a lack of growth and innovation, and with failure.

So, how do you combat this mentality?

You don’t.

Not directly, at least. You can ask your members to be blunt and honest with you regarding your ideas, but it’ll be impossible not to react defensively in the face of direct criticism. As a result, they’ll pull back, drop their point at the first sign of resistance, and regret being so forthcoming in the first place.

And that leaves the necessary scrutiny you need to weed out bad ideas painfully absent.

Here’s where a good consultant comes in:

They won’t care about your feelings.

You’re paying them to be honest and give you the best advice based on their experience and your desired outcomes. In effect, they’re the most unbiased—and therefore trustworthy—opinion you can receive. A good consultant’s main interest is to make sure your association is successful in its initiatives. If your organization fails, they fail. If you succeed, they succeed. As a result, a consultant will always have your best interest at heart.

Closing Thoughts

Although outsourcing your fundraising and alumni engagement strategy to an outside consultant can feel unfamiliar, it’s a natural step in the process of growing your organization and improving the efficacy of your finance and communication initiatives.

If you want to learn how we can help make your fundraising process more efficient
Call 1.785.843.1661 or Contact us directly here.

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