#21 | Does your nonprofit need an experienced set of eyes and ears?
I am delighted to have Jay Frost as our first special guest in this series in which we are taking a closer look at the role of fundraising counsel. In addition to his own firm, Frost on Fundraising, Jay is a Senior Consultant to Panas, Linzy and Partners; a Senior Consultant to Brian Lacy and Associates; and an adviser to DonorSearch.
In this conversation, Jay characterizes the the role of fundraising counsel as an independent, internal set of eyes and ears that can see and hear what their donor is telling them. Fundraising counsel affords their client perspective of how the donor sees a proposal or idea. Similarly, fundraising counsel ensures that the client can hear more than just the internal voices in their head.
Even as fundraising counsel affords a critically important set of eyes and ears, Jay raises concerns about the sometimes narrow focus that we can have on donors who can give the most significant gifts. While helpful for ensuring a successful campaign, Jay believes this focused lens limits our perspective of where resources may be coming from in the future. It’s our job to ensure that clients can efficiently accomplish their goals while not limiting their understanding of the broader community.
Oftentimes the feasibility study is the first opportunity for fundraising counsel to afford their client this extra set of eyes and ears. Jay points to the opportunity that the feasibility study creates to facilitate some of the tough conversations that a donor may not otherwise be inclined to have. The study is designed to get around some of the communication barriers and gathers valuable information that can impact the success of a forthcoming campaign.
Jay admits that he sometimes gets himself in trouble for allowing feasibility study interviews go too long. However, the risk of frustrating someone doesn’t outweigh the chance of missing an important detail that might have a bearing on the campaign. Jay’s experience has shown that the greater the donors capacity to contribute to or influence the direction of a campaign, the more flexible and patient we should be when meeting with them.
As a reminder, this is the first in a series of six conversations in which we take a closer look at the role of fundraising counsel. Please be sure to come back tomorrow for the next broadcast.