The other day, as David Mersky and I were walking out of a new business meeting, he asked me how I thought it went. I said the organization desperately needs us, but I can’t see how someone with less than a $1,000,000 annual budget will justify consultant fees to their board. We know we can increase their annual fund and help forge major donor relationships, but if they are already facing major budget cuts, how can they afford us. He responded with something I know in my heart but don’t know how to get across to potential clients, he said, “Do you really think they can afford not to hire us?”
And that is the crux of the problem. Organizations, big and small, that have seen a decrease in donations and lack any plan to make up the reduced income other than slashing their expense budget are hesitant to spend money on a consultant. All they see is another $10,000 out of somebody’s budget.
What can MJA do?
There are no blanket solutions. (You know that if you’ve ever picked up a book on development that sounds good in general but just doesn’t relate to your organization.) We offer organizational assessments, development audits, new development plans, prospect research, solicitor training, strategic planning, and annual fund enhancements which can result in new donors from a pool of untapped resources that you might not even know you currently have.
What happens if we don’t think we can increase your philanthropic revenue? Well, it has not happened in the 17+ years that the firm has been in existence.
No, not every client has been a success story. As the saying goes — we can lead you to water, but we can’t make you drink. In other words, our recommendations are irrelevant if your board and volunteer leadership are unwilling to provide the time and energy necessary to make the changes.
How do you know if you have the necessary level of commitment?
I have worked for organizations that have only 3 people come to a board meeting and organizations that regularly have more than 90% attendance – both have benefited from our services.
So, pick up the phone and call us. We are always willing to talk to organizations about best practices that will strengthen the organization. Really – no commitment necessary. Just consider us to energize greater board participation or to leverage the 90 % who show up, but are not yet effective advocates and ambassadors for your cause.