4 minute read

We often hear nonprofits struggle to find enough time and resources to successfully fundraise. So, we have teamed up with our friends at Harbor Compliance to give you a solution that you may not have considered. Brock Klinger leads the Nonprofit Services Sales Team at Harbor Compliance​. He manages charitable solicitation, professional fundraising, commercial co-venture and charitable gift annuity client relationships across all jurisdictions and industries. Today, he has three tips for working with a professional fundraiser.

While fundraising is a critical component of your organization’s success, it’s not uncommon for nonprofit teams to feel stretched to deliver their mission programs and sustain the funding stream that supports them. Hiring an external fundraising professional is one solution many organizations pursue to give their solicitation campaigns the attention needed for a successful rate of return.

When partnering with a professional fundraiser, you want to have a clear picture of your goals and both parties’ expectations, just as you would with any new partnership. It is also crucial to know that hiring a fundraising professional could trigger certain charitable solicitation registration requirements for your organization and the hired professional. You can boost your fundraising opportunities while keeping your good standing intact by applying the same principle of transparency to your fundraising partnerships that you maintain in your donor relationships. When forging a new relationship with a fundraising professional, here are three strategies to get you started:

1. Understand Contracts and Costs

Whether partnering with a professional solicitor who actively solicits donations on your organization’s behalf or with a fundraising counsel or fundraising consultant who advises on strategy, compensation  must be clearly spelled out in advance. A transparent, well-coordinated agreement will benefit both parties.

When evaluating potential partners, review their standard contracts to ensure they outline acceptable remuneration plans. Some state charity registration offices also provide searchable public databases you can use to review the fundraising contracts of registered professional fundraisers, which can help provide a picture of their previous charitable campaign engagements.

2. Know Your Provider’s Background

If you’re entering into your first professional fundraising partnership, you’re probably researching possible providers to determine the best match of services to your charity’s needs. To narrow your search, ask nonprofit peers in your network to recommend firms or individual professionals who have delivered positive results and have the right skills to advance your organization’s fundraising goals. When reviewing specific candidates, you can ask for references from other nonprofits they’ve worked with and research public feedback on their past engagements.

Many states require professional fundraisers to register with the charities bureau. While fundraising professionals are responsible for their own registrations, it’s also a good idea to ensure any professionals you hire are compliant with applicable registration, bond and record-keeping requirements. This can help you confirm you’re working with a reliable partner, prevent complications in your campaigns and continue to promote transparency in the nonprofit sector.

3. Be Aware of Licensing Requirements

While the requirements vary, professional solicitors are currently required to register as a licensed provider in 45 states. Most states also require submission of fundraising contracts to state charity offices, typically at least 10 days prior to the start of each new charitable campaign. In addition, professional solicitors must often submit a financial report within 90 days of a campaign’s completion. As with many regulated professions, professional fundraising firms may be required to have licenses both for their individual solicitors as well as for their firms. State requirements for fundraising counsel and consultants are similar, though somewhat less stringent. To learn more, you can consult our online guide to state-by-state fundraising counsel requirements.

Whatever fundraising initiatives are on the horizon for your nonprofit, meeting your charitable solicitation registration requirements remains paramount to your organization’s success. It’s important to note that even if your charity’s annual revenues are below state thresholds for registration, contracting an external fundraising partner could subject you to new requirements. Be sure to check the specific requirements of each state where you plan to solicit funds before you sign a contract.

An informed partnership between nonprofits and fundraising professionals, built on a strong compliance plan by both parties, can be a great way to take your fundraising campaigns to new heights. If you need assistance managing professional fundraiser registrations and other charitable solicitation requirements, you can get in touch with Harbor Compliance or give us a call at 1-888-995-5895. Our compliance specialists have helped nonprofits with their registrations in every state and would be happy to assist you so you can focus on your fundraising goals.

Disclaimer: Harbor Compliance is not an accounting or law firm and does not provide tax, financial, or legal advice