Do You Want to Become a Fundraising Consultant

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Many nonprofit staffers dream about going to “the other side,” as a consultant. There are many real challenges in making that leap, and even once you do, the career choice entails continuous learning around both the content of your consulting as well as business acumen. The idea of running a business is quite foreign to many of us who come out of the nonprofit sector. Recently, I edited The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook: Winning Strategies from 25 Leaders in the Field, with Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE. The 25 contributors to the book, as well as hundreds of other consultants I have met since, have helped me winnow down a few of the key principles that typify successful consultants in our field.

Seek the support of your peers.

Yes, we are technically competitors, but this is one of the most generous groups of colleagues around. I’d like to think that this generosity is a result of our roots in the nonprofit sector. If you are a new or aspiring consultant, ask a respected colleague to serve as a mentor, and you are likely to get an enthusiastic “yes.” Plenty of veterans still consider themselves green enough to hold onto a valued sage. Many more seek the ongoing guidance of peers over time. After all, consultants juggle business development; client relations; and the latest developments in grants, campaigns, technology, and the development field generally. We need all the insights we can get.

Let your values guide you.

Your knowledge of the field plays only a partial role in your consulting success. The way you make that first impression, negotiate the contract, and regularly communicate with a client carries just as much weight—and there is no magic formula to perfect any of these things. Solid ethics are the thread that runs through them all. If you are honest, reliable, and a good listener, you build trust. Trust is your number one asset.

Follow your path to success.

What I loved most about compiling The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook was affirming the success of consultants with all sorts of business models. I have met accomplished specialists and generalists, those who work locally and nationally, those with staff and those who are sole proprietors. All are successful in their own right. If someone gives you a prescription for their success, infuse it with your own goals and values before moving forward. For instance, if I had a dollar for every push I’ve gotten to move heavily into social media, I could take a nice vacation. But my emphasis on targeted, rather than mass, networking and writing has resulted in a steady flow of clients. Of course, others’ businesses thrive on social media.

Even if you are just beginning to explore consulting, consider using these principles to lay the groundwork for your business plan. As with most things in life, solid advice—infused with a heavy dose of intuition—makes for the strongest foundation.

Susan Schaefer is founder and principal of Resource Partners LLC, a consulting firm that focuses on fundraising and board development. She is also the co-author of Nonprofit Board Service for the GENIUS.

Spending Wisely and Meaningfully


I’ve heard parenting likened to running a nonprofit. You invest a lot of money with a focus on bettering society with little or no monetary gain. It’s important to teach children about money – they need to learn how to save, spend, and give charitably.

“But Peter gets an allowance!” is not a reason to start giving your child an allowance. Before beginning to institute an allowance think about why you are instituting it. What is it you hope your child will get out of it?

Should you choose to offer an allowance, you can use it for many different things. You could offer your child a budget for clothes, entertainment, toys, etc. If you do this, try to avoid spending money on these items from your own wallet. Of course a special event may require a new suit or outfit, but generally speaking, stick to the allowance for clothes if that’s what it’s dedicated to. An allowance is a prime opportunity to teach your child about saving and spending. It’s great to enjoy something special, but if you save, you can get something even more special. If you daughter is hankering for a designer pair of jeans and it takes three months to save the money for them she will enjoy those jeans and take better care of them. If your son regularly blows his allowance in one fell swoop at the corner candy store, it might be time to talk about spending wisely.

Some families choose not to offer an allowance to kids. This is a fine choice and you still have opportunities to develop thoughtful spending habits in your children. Try to be clear about how you will spend money and, when appropriate, explain your choices. For example, what determines the budget for clothing, toys, and entertainment outings and items? Discuss this up front and take the opportunity to model wise spending. We have an annual budget for clothing for the entire family. At the end of the year one year we still had $100 left over. Our youngest needed a jacket, our daughter wanted anything we’d buy her, and our oldest wanted a few t-shirts. We spent an hour on line as a family choosing what they wanted and needed. Once we had everything in the virtual shopping cart we were over budget and had to pare it down. This was a prime opportunity to share our decision-making and to model sticking to the budget (even though we could have just spent a little extra – after all it was the holiday season).

Children should be encouraged to earn money. At a young age they can help neighbors take care of house pets, plants, or raking the lawn. As they get older they can mow lawns, shovel snow, or run errands. Natural jobs for tween and teens are babysitting, office work, or waiting tables. Earning money is character building and offers kids a sense of empowerment. Once they earn their own money, encourage them to spend wisely. It’s ok to insist you be a part of the decision-making process early on so they learn to be thoughtful in their approach to spending.

A Jewish tradition is the tzedakah box. Families use it in different ways, but the idea is to put a bit of money in it every now and then or on a routine basis. Once you have collected a sum (either predetermined, or perhaps it just filled), you donate the amount to a cause or charity. You might like to choose the organization or cause together or alternate deciding. The idea is to show that it’s good to share wealth and think about others. The lessons learned are numerous and special. You can learn about all different organizations in need, share interests, build collaboration, and instill life-long giving.

Author, Educator, Consultant
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Buy Amy’s book. Parenting for the GENIUS by clicking on the icon for the book on this website.


Eleven Ways to Spur Board Engagement

Board Service PrintEleven Ways to Spur Board Engagement

By Susan Schaefer and Bob Wittig

No matter how well your board functions, one of the core challenges nonprofit leaders face is keeping board members engaged. After all, we’re talking about human beings here. Personalities can be enough to derail a group. Add to that members’ competing demands: It can be a challenge to garner attention during meetings, let alone outside of them. Then there are those who join boards solely for prestige, networking, or ego. Some get restless because they expect a level of performance that your board might not provide. Others are easily bored.

Without member engagement, even the best policies and procedures will mean nothing. With a couple of allies and a dose of patience, even those outside of the leadership ranks have the ability to influence peers. If you’d like to accelerate your collective engagement, consider these practices:

  1. Chair as cheerleader. The board chair can encourage members to step up and follow through with tasks and responsibilities.
  2. Check-ins and check-ups. The ED and the chair can meet with each board member annually. These check-ins enable leadership to determine what is going well and what is not going so well…and work to fix problem areas.
  3. Meeting mechanics. Well-run meetings—those that provide members with opportunities to discuss substantive issues and strategies—help keep members engaged. Carefully-planned agendas that begin and end on time help, too.
  4. Tailored experiences. Individual members want to serve in areas of interest to them. We can’t assume that the expert fundraiser just wants to fundraise all the time.
  5. Mission. Members want (and need!) ongoing links to the mission. Experiential learning often works best, including client testimonials, attendance at client events, and direct work with clients.
  6. Vision. A compelling and exciting vision—usually inspired by the ED—gives everyone a sense of excitement and direction.
  7. Honesty. Members do not like surprises, such as an ED’s board meeting pronouncement that there’s not enough money in the bank to meet tomorrow’s payroll. Members remain engaged if they trust leadership.
  8. Board community. Devote time to socialize outside of board business—happy hour, a baseball game, or bowling can deepen connection and camaraderie.
  9. Clear expectations. Board members should understand what is expected of them—before they join the board. Nothing can demoralize a member like feeling a victim of a bait and switch! Board commitment statements and strategic plans solidify expectations.
  10. Inclusion. It’s the chair’s job to include everyone in dialogue and debate. Yet all members should value their peers’ perspectives. Leadership can also “hear” what’s on the mind of individual members through board assessments and one-on-one meetings.
  11. Recognition. Everyone appreciates a pat on the back. So who thanks the board? Some EDs are terrific about thanking their board members. But board members can also thank each other. Send a note or a collective bottle of wine to a hard-working chair. Initiate a social to celebrate the group’s hard work after an event. Just say “thank you” after a board meeting when you notice that a peer has done a good job.

This blog is excerpted from the new book written by Susan Schaefer and Bob Wittig. Buy it here:

Susan is a consultant, writer, and speaker. The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook is among her other writing projects, co-edited with Linda Lysakowski. Susan’s practical approach to fundraising and board development has made her a frequent presenter at conferences and in classrooms, including a course she teaches at Johns Hopkins University. In 2001, Susan founded Resource Partners LLC, which guides nonprofits to meet their income goals within their unique financial and human resource limitations.

Since 2002, Bob has been executive director of the Jovid Foundation in Washington, DC. In addition to grantmaking, he has hosted a monthly “Lunch Club” for grantee ED’s and a “Breakfast Club” for grantee board members. He also helped spearhead the effort to develop a co-location of organizations, The Work Place DC, and the development of a shared database system, HIRE DC, to be used by small workforce development organizations to track participant achievements and report collective impact.

Guest Blog–So You Want to Work in the Nonprofit Sector


So You Want to Work in the Nonprofit Sector……..Tips for Success

By Norman Olshansky: President

NFP Consulting Resources, Inc.

I am frequently asked for advice from students, recent grads and job seekers who are entering work within the nonprofit sector or who want to transition from the for profit sector to work in nonprofits.   Nonprofits are businesses, albeit with special tax status and missions, which are focused on community benefit.  A few of my suggestions are listed below.   What would you add?

1. Nonprofit work starts with passion for mission

Make sure that you sincerely care about the mission of the nonprofit in which you seek employment.  Nonprofit work is first about mission.  Whatever your position, work, or engagement within a nonprofit, it is to add value to the mission of that organization and its community benefit endeavors.  Don’t work for a nonprofit if you can’t be a sincere and strong advocate for its mission.  Job satisfaction will be directly related to how much pride you have in your work and how it enhances the overall impact of your organization.

  1. Get involved with a professional or trade association

Jobs in nonprofits are varied.  Some are in direct service while others are in back office supports, administration, management or fundraising.  Nonprofits employ marketing, accounting, human resource and other specialties.  Whether it is the National Association of Social Workers, Association of Fundraising Professionals, Association of Healthcare Philanthropy, American Marketing Association, American Accounting Association, Council for Advancement and Support of Education,  or other local, regional or national groups, seek out the one that can best assist you in your new position.  Take advantage of their offerings, benefits and resources they provide.

  1. Find an experienced mentor

Seek out someone who has a lot of experience doing the work you will be doing or will want to do, i.e. counseling, human resources, marketing, accounting, fundraising, management, etc. There is more to being a good nonprofit employee than proficiency on the technical side of the work.  Nonprofits are all about relationships with clients, consumers of service, members, donors, co-workers, volunteers and other stakeholders.  The art of nonprofit work is as important as the science.  A mentor with lots of nonprofit experience can help someone new to nonprofit work address the various issues and relationships that impact nonprofit employees.  Choose a mentor who also has experience within the sector you are employed i.e. human service, education, arts and culture, government, healthcare, etc.  It is helpful to use a mentor who is not currently employed within your organization, who is trustworthy and who is able to maintain complete confidentiality.

  1. Seek out good supervision

Look for a position where you will receive good supervision by someone who will provide you with professional guidance, honest input and evaluation.  While any good employee seeks to learn more, it is especially important for new nonprofit employees to seek out leaning and growth opportunities.  Look for an organization that will provide you with those experiences.  Also check out leaning opportunities at your local colleges and universities, nonprofit resource centers, community foundations, and with national associations.

  1. Always be a student

Take advantage of opportunities to attend workshops, conferences, participate in online webinars, and continue to read as much as you can related to your work and the overall nonprofit sector.  Be curious.  Learn as much as you can about what others in your organization do, how your role intersects with theirs, and is part of the overall mission.   Ask lots of questions and be willing to try new approaches that will add value to your organization.   Be focused on outcomes and not outputs.  The number of things you do may not be as important as the quality of what is accomplished by your work.  Use your time wisely.  It is a valuable resource.   Nonprofits are just as concerned about return on investment as are for-profit organizations.  Human and financial capital is limited so your employer is going to look at how you add value to the organization.  A good student will sort out lots of information, make critical decisions and use their time and organization’s resources wisely.  Even the most experienced nonprofit professional needs to constantly seek out learning opportunities if they are going to keep up with the ever-changing nonprofit sector.

  1. Mistakes, change and risk

Nobody is perfect.  You WILL make mistakes.  Good employees learn from their mistakes and take advantage of new learning to go the next level.  Ask any professional how they have learned to be effective and they will include in their responses examples of learning from mistakes and failure.  In addition, be willing to take calculated risks.  Change does not occur if an organization or employee continually does everything the same way.  If something needs to be better, more effective, more efficient than is currently the situation in an organization, then change (which often involves risk taking) is necessary. Be willing to explore different ways of doing your job that can improve your impact within your organization.

  1. Be a role model and enjoy your work

Try to find a position where you will do work that you find enjoyable.  No job is perfect and there are always aspects of employment, which are not fun. Successful employees are typically the ones who sincerely love their work and want to be part of helping others in their organization succeed.   Be trustworthy.  Avoid office gossip.  People like to work with positive co-workers.  Be the type of employee that you would want to work with day to day.  You may be faced with tough decision based upon the positions and behavior exhibited by others.  Always take the moral/ethical high ground and avoid doing anything that you wouldn’t want to read about on the front page of your local newspaper.

  1. Compensation and Benefits

               If your interest in working within a nonprofit organization is to make the big

bucks, you will be disappointed.  While there are a few exceptions,

nonprofits have historically paid less than comparable positions within the

for-profit sector  Most established nonprofits offer reasonable compensation

and benefits.  However, if your main motivation for looking at potential

positions within the nonprofit sector is a highly competitive financial

package,  it’s not the place for you.

As someone who has worked within the nonprofit sector for over 25 years I still love what I do and encourage those who are serious about nonprofit work and have a passion for community service to consider a career within the nonprofit sector.  There are few jobs that offer the satisfaction and feeling of service and accomplishment as those within nonprofits.

Norm is co-editor of You and Your Nonprofit: Buy it here:

Guest Blog Treasure Mapping

3D-cover--for-WebTREASURE MAPPING – Jill Raiguel, MFT

Anytime you complete a project, or a job, or a phase in your life, it’s the perfect time to write about setting goals, a chapter from my book, and treasure mapping, a fun and visual way to set your goals and dreams on paper.

When my sister and I were little girls, mom would say, “We’re going to take a road trip this summer. Let’s get out the maps.” We’d plan our route: how long each day would take, how we’d pack the car, snacks we’d take, songs we’d sing. She even had each of us clean out a dresser drawer — the trip drawer. For weeks, she’d buy items for the trip–they went in the trip drawer. Things like a new tooth brush, new tennis shoes.

Looking back, I appreciate that she was teaching us far more than planning a vacation. She was teaching us the fun of setting a goal, making a plan, anticipating the journey and taking steps to make it reality. She built in the joy of planning our vacation. As an adult, my sister plans huge events and manages sophisticated accounts professionally; I write book, teach and plan courses and workshops. We’re both invigorated and get great satisfaction from planning and actualizing goals.

But let’s talk about one fun particularly planning tool, treasure mapping. By treasure mapping or vision boarding, I mean making a visual collage of your goals and dreams. You could make a vision board of your future job, or the relationship you want. I made one of the new home I wanted; and I have everything I put on the board. Use a file folder, or opened paper bag or piece of tag board. Find magazine pictures that represent your goals. Cut them out and paste them onto your board. Take your time assembling the collage.

Put the collage where you can see it daily, so those images get into your brain. Barbara Laporte’s book, Goal Achievement Through Treasure Mapping, gives you more details. Once you’ve reviewed your collage, see if you want to change anything. Many folks I now who’ve done this proves have found they get what they put on the collage, so be careful what you ask for. And, have FUN!!

Jill Raiguel, MFT, has been a psychotherapist at Kohut Psychiatric medical Group in San Bernardino, Ca., and she have a private practice using her shamanic tools. She trains and leads workshops. Her new book Alternative Healing Beyond Recovery for the Genius is available here:


Essential Oils

Many of you have been following my journey over the past nine months with my husband’s deep brain stimulation surgery (DBS) and subsequent stroke and , more recently, my own stroke. In addition to some wonderful doctors one of the things that has gotten me through this journey is my use of essential oils .  I’ve set up a website to explain the essential oils. If you’re interested in learning more follow this link.

Lavander Essential Oil

Monday Morning Musings (on Thursday this week)

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the 2015 International Fundraising Summit. Here are a few of the great comments I received:

I wanted to write and thank you for one of the best workshops of the recent Fundraising Summit. Your presentation was pithy, full of valuable information, and, above all, made perfect sense for an absolute greenhorn right on up to the seasoned professionals. Judi SeSouter, New York City

Thank you for contributing to the Fundraising Summit—you have been my favorite speaker! Amber Rose, Dayton Performing Arts Alliance

Thanks so much for a very informative session on Corporate Giving at the 2015 Fundraising Summit. Leslie Shernofsky

I wanted to thank you for your brilliant “Raise More Money from Your Business Community” presentation in this week’s fundraising summit. I’ve watched six of the different presentations so far this week; this one has been, by far, the most exciting for me. Thank you! Donna M Lafferty, Bloomington, IL

Great Presentation, a very good presenter. Thanks for some great ideas.

Excellent seminar. Thanks Linda, I will be emailing you.

Informative, well organized presentation, thank you!

Reach out to smaller businesses….join the “rubber chicken” circuit….have another business leader invite business leaders to events—just a few of Linda’s solid ideas. Wonderful presentation, Linda. Thanks so much!

This was one of the best that I have listened to for sure! Very, very helpful for me….I look forward to making future contact with Linda and obtaining her latest book. I believe everything have heard today and will read about in the future is going to assist in obtaining more of the necessary funds required to offer our programs. Thank you!

To obtain all the sessions from the Fundraising Summit, including mine, visit:

Monday Morning Musings

December 1, 2014

Have you thought about writing the great American novel, or a best-selling non-fiction book?

Many of us feel we have a book (or several books, maybe even dozens of books) in us. But my guess is that maybe 1 percent of us actually write the book, and maybe .01 percent or less get published.

As with many consultants, I wrote my first book, a non-fiction book geared to the nonprofit sector—the area in which I consult—with the thought of enhancing my credibility in the consulting arena, and generating some extra income. But my primary reason was that I felt I had good information to share with the nonprofit community.  And, as with probably every author there is a bit of ego—seeing your name on the cover of a real, published, book, you can’t beat that for an ego trip.

Since that first writing venture in 2003, I have authored, co-authored, co-edited or been a contributing author to more than a dozen books for the nonprofit sector, and finally achieved the dream of publishing my first novel. I am currently working on one non-fiction book in the For The GENIUS series, have three co-authored books to be released through CharityChannel Press, and am working on a second fiction book. (Lesson learned—I will not self-publish this one).

For me writing has always been about leaving a legacy—in two ways. First, royalties on books go on forever, at least as long as the book is in print and selling, so the legacy for my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren is that they will have income from my writing. The second way my writing is a legacy, is that fifty years from now, if some novice in the nonprofit fundraising arena picks up one of my books, it will be as though I am still alive and sharing my knowledge. When I wanted to learn more about the business of nonprofit fundraising, decades ago, I looked to some of the great authors who guided my career and will be eternally grateful that these authors took the time to write down their experiences and expertise. Today, one of my greatest thrills is when I am at a conference or meet someone in the fundraising field through social media or speaking at conference and they say… “I am so delighted to meet you, your book is so great—my copy is dog-eared and highlighted all over the place.”

So, can you make a career out of writing? Well I still do a limited amount of consulting to pay the bills, but the legacy to me is more important than the money. It depends not only on your motivation for writing, but also what kind of books you plan to write. Fiction is much harder to get published. Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, you must have a platform in place to market your book. Publishers will ask what your marketing plan is, and if you self-publish, the marketing is all up to you. So, can you make money writing? Maybe, but you have to write a great book, get it published, and be prepared to market it.

What my writing has done for me is several things:

  • Enabled me to command a higher fee for consulting and training
  • Landed me a lot of speaking engagements in great locations all over the world
  • Introduced me to the publishing business, where I now serve as an Acquisitions Editor for CharityChannel Press and For the GENIUS Press.

For more stories from published authors, see

Info About Me:

Linda serves as Acquisitions Editor for CharityChannel Press and For the GENIUS Press. In this role she has edited dozens of books.

In addition to her role as editor, she is an accomplished author. Linda is the author of:

  • Recruiting and Training Fundraising Volunteers
  • The Development Plan
  • Fundraising as a Career: What, Are You Crazy?
  • Capital Campaigns: Everything You NEED to Know
  • Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign workbook
  • Raise More Money from Your Business Community
  • Raise More Money from Your Business Community—The Workbook
  • Fundraising for the GENIUS, 1st and 2nd editions
  • The Matriarch (a novel).

She is also a contributing author to:

  • The Fundraising Feasibility Study—It’s Not About the Money
  • YOU and Your Nonprofit Board

Co-editor of:

  • YOU and Your Nonprofit and The Nonprofit Consulting Handbook
  • The Nonprofit Consulting Playbook

And co-author of:

  • The Essential Nonprofit Fundraising Handbook
  • The Leaky Bucket: What’s Wrong With Your Fundraising…And How You Can Fix It
  • The New Donor
  • Nonprofit Strategic Planning

A graduate of Alvernia University and AFP’s Faculty Training Academy, she is a Master Teacher. Linda is one of one hundred professionals worldwide to hold the Advanced Certified Fund Raising Executive designation. She is president of Linda Lysakowski, LLC, dedicated to inspiring creativity and philanthropy. In her twenty plus years as a philanthropic consultant, Linda has managed capital campaigns, helped hundreds of nonprofit organizations achieve their development goals, and trained more than 27,000 development professionals in Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Egypt, and most of the fifty United States.

Monday Morning Musings

September 8, 2014

Great educational opportunities coming your way: Sign up now for two great online courses:


Raise More Money from Your Business Community Online Course

For just $199 per organization, you can have as many people from your organization as you would like participate and you will receive one eBook and one eWorkbook per organization. This is a two-part course, approximately ninety minutes in length for each class.  You simply sign up, gather your task force together in one location so they can work together on the materials, and download the recordings, PowerPoint, and eBooks. Fees for this course are $199 per organization and will include an electronic version of the workbook and book.

Other books by Linda Lysakowski, including Fundraising for the GENIUS can be purchased through this course at a 15 percent discount.


 “What’s Wrong With Your Fundraising and How to Fix It” Course

A ten-week course to help you determine what’s wrong with your fundraising, and learn how to fix it now! This course will provide you with a book and tools you can easily implement in your development office!  We will cover:

  • Lesson One: The Leaky Bucket Assessment (participants will receive an evaluation of their individual Leaky Bucket survey.
  • Lesson Two—Qualifying donor/funder prospects
  • Lesson Three—Acquiring new donors
  • Lesson Four—Retaining existing donors
  • Lesson Five—Up-selling and cross-selling donors
  • Lesson Six—Managing funding diversification
  • Lesson Seven—Staffing your development program
  • Lesson Eight—Measuring fundraising performance
  • Lesson Nine—Building the infrastructure
  • Lesson Ten—Developing a plan to overcome shortfalls in your development program

This course is delivered in ten online sessions of ninety minutes each, with online/phone support between lessons. The cost of the course incudes a free copy of our book, The Leaky Bucket: What’s Wrong With Your Fundraising…And How to Fix it.  Fees for course and book are $759. Courses begin in September 2014.

To Register for either course: email me at:

Watch for the new SFRI Pre-recorded webcasts coming in early 2015   

You can still sign up for my College of Southern Nevada course at

Monday Morning Musings


 “Raise More Money from Your Business Community” Webinar

Presented by Linda Lysakowski, ACFRE

A practical down-to-earth workshop to help you develop a plan to raise more money from your local business community right away!  This two-part webinar series will provide you with an eBook and eWorkbook and tools you can implement tomorrow!  We will cover:

  • Developing a list of prospective business donors for your organization
  • Creating a list of prospective business volunteers who can help you raise money from businesses in your community
  • Developing a plan to conduct an annual business appeal

For just $199 per organization, you can have as many people from your organization participate (we suggest the executive director, director of development, board chair, and chair of the development committee). You will receive one eBook and one eWorkbook per organization.

You will receive both webinar recordings and both eBooks with your registration fee of $199!                                                                                                                                             

To register email me at:

We will be holding a half-day live version of this workshop in Las Vegas this fall. For details on that, also email me at