The world is crowded with fundraising consultants – it seems that more and more enter the field every year. Most serve clients doing development assessments, fundraising planning, campaign strategy and management, and (our favorite) helping board members embrace fundraising.
They create strategic plans, facilitate board development, mediate internal conflicts, and assist with marketing plans. They do start-ups, mergers, and shut-downs. They talk CEOs and development staff through various crises, real or imagined.This is all valuable and satisfying work, but it may not generate the exposure they need to sustain a successful consulting practice.
If you’re a consultant and you’re interested in finding new clients, add another service to your toolkit. Become a fundraising trainer.
Start Training: Become a Magnet for Clients
Imagine yourself in front of a room, engaging a group of eager participants.
You facilitate exercises, create learning opportunities, and give them the chance to reflect on what they have learned and how they will apply it. People are having fun – their minds and bodies are active, they laugh, they learn.
You orchestrate the experience, stepping forward to energize the group and provide direction, then stepping back to let them do their work and energize each other.
At the end of the workshop, everyone feels empowered – maybe a little overwhelmed, but in a good way, like after a full meal. They walk out of the room thinking, “Yes, we can raise money – and we know how.”
After an experience like that, who WOULDN’T want to hire you to work more closely with their organization?
Build Your Training Muscles
The number one fear in America is public speaking. Effective trainers aren’t “public speakers.” But most training does require you to get in front of a group of people, in a public way, and open your mouth.
You may be more comfortable sitting behind a computer, or talking on the phone, or meeting with clients and donors one-on-one. But those activities don’t put you into the world where you can demonstrate your expertise in public.
To help you understand the basics of effective training, download the attached handout, Getting Started as a Trainer.
Here’s the gist of it: People remember what they do, not what you say.
If you want to be an effective trainer, you have to design exercises so people can jump in and practice whatever skill you want them to master.
Contrast this to the usual conference fare with participants sitting in a dim room, staring bleary-eyed at PowerPoint slides while the presenter drones on. This isn’t training – it’s torture.
Training is active. It engages the audience rather than just lecturing to them. As my colleague Andrea Kihlstedt likes to say, “Stop talking and start training.”
Training is Great Marketing
Many trainers report that their consulting clients first find them by attending a workshop or conference they’ve led.
If you’re a good trainer, these public events will generate private client work. The more training you do, the more consulting contracts you’ll get!
For consultants, training is one of the most effective form of marketing.
An Added Bonus: Good Trainers Become Better Consultants
Developing good training skills will also improve and expand your consulting skills.
Effective trainers are responsive, supportive and courageous. They listen well, think on their feet, manage their time effectively, and are totally present (put away that cell phone).
Effective consultants? Well, it’s pretty much the same set of skills!
Building your training skills will not only make you a busier consultant – it might make you a better one, too.