Hiring a Professional Fundraiser
Hiring a Professional Fundraiser
Getting the pros, not the con.

A Pennsylvania pastor hired with high hopes a fundraising consultant for his church. The previous year had been tough on the church. Local unemployment had soared to 26 percent. After 19 years of meeting budget, the church ran a deficit of nearly $28,000; only courageous tithing of severance pay by some who were forced into early retirement kept the shortfall to $6,000.

The church knew it needed a solid financial base for the future, so it engaged a fundraising consultant to lead a capital-funds campaign.

"No problem," said the owner of the fundraising company, a retired clergyman. "I'll find fresh money within the congregation, beyond what's already committed. With my trained staff of retired clergy doing the calling, I can promise success."

What he delivered instead, according to the pastor, were "additional expenses and lots of hard feelings." First, the consultant told the congregation to ignore any current financial commitments made to the church and pledge again, thus reusing previously pledged funds to make the new money raised seem greater. He ordered publications and materials, and billed them to the church without authorization. Finally, he misrepresented, or at least miscommunicated, his fee and billing schedule and socked the church with unexpected charges.

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