Business Overview

Nonprofit organizations rely on volunteer efforts and donor contributions, so they often need help raising the support they need. Fundraising consultant businesses help nonprofits develop and implement strategies that raise support.

The National Center for Charitable Statistics reports that there are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. With so many nonprofits, there is a significant demand for consulting services.

Who is this business right for?

Anyone who is passionate about serving the public good may enjoy running a fundraising consultant business. Though they are private business owners, consultants work closely with organizations that help others.

What happens during a typical day at a fundraising consulting business?

Fundraising consultants spend much of their time strategizing with leaders of nonprofit organizations. Depending on where in the consulting stage they are, a consultant might spend their day:

  • Discussing an organization's challenges, needs, and past efforts with leaders
  • Privately developing a strategy to address an organization’s challenges and needs
  • Collaboratively reviewing and revising a strategy with leaders
  • Implementing a strategy, which may include coaching or training an organization's members

Much of this work is done in meetings with either one person or a small group of people. In the final stages of the process, consultants might present strategies and ideas to larger groups.

What is the target market?

Fundraising consultants work for nonprofit organizations of all sizes and in all areas. After all, most nonprofits would benefit from raising more money.

How does a fundraising consulting business make money?

Fundraising consultant business owners make money by charging for the time they spend helping a nonprofit organization.

As consultants Linda Lysakowski and Mazarine Treyz explain, nonprofits will sometimes offer a percent of the total funds raised as compensation. Commission-based compensation structures should be avoided, however, because they’re considered unethical. When presented with such an offer, consultants should explain they charge for the time they work.

What is the growth potential for a fundraising consulting business?

Many fundraising consultants work only for themselves, but a few grow their businesses to include more people. Campbell & Company and Graham-Pelton are a couple larger businesses that have a few dozen consultants. Amy Eisenstein has a one-person business.