Buying in the services of a fundraising consultant, agency or freelancer isn’t as simple as it might seem. First you need a clear brief for the work. Then you’ll have to hunt around for the right person or people. Then you’ll need to do your due diligence on them. And after all that, you can make your decision.
But once you’ve chosen the right person, how do you get the best value from them? How do you ensure you get a good return on your investment?
Most fundraising consultants work on a day rate basis. Typically, the rate is based on the consultant’s experience and the complexity of the work.
Day rates vary enormously. Less experienced consultants and freelancers tend to charge upwards of £200 per day. At the other end of the scale, large consultancy firms can charge up to £1,200 per day.
But does the day-rate model actually work? Or is there a better way?
What’s wrong with day rates?
More and more fundraising consultants are now charging on a project basis for their time. And we’ve seen this shift in other sectors too.
Take buying a shiny new kitchen for example. If you’re having a new kitchen fitted, will your builder charge you on a day rate basis? Of course not; he will estimate how long the work will take and will give you a fixed price for the job.
So why do so many fundraising consultants charge on a day rate basis? On one level, charging on a day rate basis is relatively simple, both for the charity and the consultant. So maybe that’s part of it. Perhaps there’s also something reassuring about knowing exactly how many days the work will take?
But what happens if the consultant needs more days to complete the work? Do you pay more to enable them to complete the work? Or do they walk away having not finished the work?
What’s wrong with the day rate approach?
There are several problems with daily or hourly billing rates:
1. Time: Paying on a day rate basis can means that the clock is always ticking. There’s a danger that you will hold back on asking lots of questions for fear of ‘using up’ too much time. Or what if you come up with an innovative idea? Does that get shelved because it will eat into the time?
2. Budgetary control: Paying a flat rate for the work also gives you greater control of the budget. This is particularly important for smaller charities that are on a tight budget. The consultant can work to your budget and to clear outcomes for the work.
3. Competition: With a value-based approach, the procurement process is much easier – and much more effective. Say you have two consultants that you think could both deliver the project; one is cheaper than the other so you’re naturally going to select the candidate with the lower day rate. But they may not be the best person for the job. With a project-based pricing structure, you can compare apples with apples.
The bottom line
The day rate approach to fundraising consultancy has had its day. I believe in giving clients my absolute best, and to do that I need to be creative and not be restricted by the clock. If I’m on a day rate with you, I may work quicker to stay within the time limit. But does that mean I have given the project the time and love it deserves? Possibly not.
Trusting me to deliver the project at a fixed rate means that you will get an awesome outcome from the work. You can ask all the questions in the world, without the fear of the clock ticking.
And I get to do what I love most; provide you with the skills and confidence to inspire and wow your donors to give and keep on giving.
For more information or advice regarding about fundraising consultancy fees, please get in touch.