When you begin the search for a fundraising company to partner with, it can be overwhelming. As a non-profit, selecting a fundraising company is a crucial component to accomplishing your financial goals and perhaps executing an effective fundraising event.  With a myriad of fundraising products and services offered in today’s market, how do you know what will be the fit for you? Consider your needs before selecting a fundraising company to assist you.  It is helpful to schedule appointments with only two or three companies to allot enough time for thorough interviews. Working with a fundraising company is about creating a situation that provides success as efficiently and effectively as possible. Since every non-profit and fundraising company is different it is important to start evaluating a company by explaining your situation. In order to determine what services will be critical to your success as a non-profit, discuss your financial goals, the scope of the event you are trying to host and provide a history of your organization.

When you’ve narrowed the field to a few potential partners, it’s time to interview the sales representatives by phone or in person. Here are some questions to ask:

Experience: How long has the fundraising company been in business? Size and features of programs are less important than the experience, reputation, and financial stability of the company.

Customization: Will the company tailor to your needs as an organization? Ask them to provide specifics, perhaps even in written form.

Turnaround time: What is the company’s order turnaround time? How does the process of products shipment and delivery impact the fundraising organizer?

Product offerings:  If charity auction items are a product offering, ask what products are available, is there an authenticity guarantee, is it possible to return an auction item that does not sell?

Response time: How responsive will the company/representative be should problems arise? What is the expectation level of involvement for the representative?

Damaged Product Policy: What is the company’s policy if damaged or unsatisfactory items are received? Are products refundable?

Don’t ask all the questions. Let the company explain what they will do to make your fundraiser a success and how they can make the work of your host committee and volunteers easier. Allow the companies to demonstrate their expertise and professionalism and listen carefully.

Establishing Trust. The Fundraising Company and your non-profit must work well together. It is important to see how your volunteers perceive the company and its representatives. Does the representative show sincerity, take a personal interest in the group’s goals and concerns, and believe in the products and services offered? Representative who are trusted, admired, and respected will have a responsive volunteer team.

Your host committee places their reputation in the hands of the fundraising company and must know that they will operate with the utmost integrity. But how do you assess integrity? One way to judge a company is to speak with their past charity partners and review their previous work. Ask for three references for the Fundraising Company. A new company may only be able to give you information of who they associate with, such as Better Business Bureau or local chamber of commerce.