Finding a Professional fundraising company
Selecting the right fundraising company is a critical step toward your program's success. In some areas, dozens of companies offer myriad fundraising products and services. Though the competition may create certain advantages for the fundraising organizer, it also increases the need to completely evaluate a company before choosing a program. It is a good idea to pare the list of candidates down to two or three companies before scheduling appointments to allow ample time for thorough interviews.
Service is a critical consideration when evaluating a company. Let the company explain what they will do to make your fundraiser a success and, importantly, make your job easier. Allow companies to demonstrate their expertise and professionalism. To help you and the company determine what services will be critical to the program's success, discuss up front your financial goals and the number of volunteers you can count on for help. Armed with answers to the following questions, fundraising sponsors can make solid decisions for their group:
- How long has the company (and the company's representative) been in the product fundraising business? Company size and program mechanics are less important than financial stability, experience and reputation.
- What value-added services does the company offer, and how much do these services cost (such as assistance to volunteers, communicating with parents,and custom packing)?
- How will the company tailor its program to fit your organization's needs?
- How is safety addressed in the program? Does the company discourage door-to-door sales? Will children be encouraged to focus their efforts on family,close neighbors and friends? Will adult supervision be stressed? How will these points be communicated to children? Parents?
- Are teachers encouraged to take advantage of the educational elements (such as oral presentation and math) of the fundraising program? If so, how?
- Does the company comply with state sales and use tax laws and understand how these laws impact your program?
- What is the company's order turnaround time? How are products shipped and delivered, and how will this impact the fundraising organizer?
- How responsive will the company/representative be should problems arise?
- What is the company's policy if your group receives damaged products? Are returns accepted?
- How does the company handle back orders or substitutions?
Ask for and check references (e.g., other groups, parents, school administrators). Find out if the company delivers on promises. Did their programs generally meet, exceed or fall short of expectations?
The personal relationship between the organizer and the company is critical. Because the organization's reputation is at stake, fundraising coordinators must be able to completely trust the company and know that it will operate with integrity and high ethical standards.
Also important is how the volunteers perceive the company and its representative. Is the representative sincere? Does he or she take a personal interest in the group's goals and concerns? Does the person really believe in the products and services offered? Volunteers will respond best to individuals they trust, admire and respect.