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Five Ways to Measure a Fundraising
Company's Credibility

From the Fundraising Edge

Although selecting the right fundraising company can mean a difference of thousands of dollars in profits for a non-profit organization, relatively few organizations invest adequate time in making that decision. In an April 1996 workshop at the annual conference of the National Catholic Educational Association, Russell Lemieux, Executive Director of the Association of Fund Raisers and Direct Sellers (AFRDS), suggested focusing on five key areas when interviewing fundraising companies:

  1. How long has the company and its representative been in the product fundraising business? Companies with a track record are more likely to anticipate and meet an organization's needs. An experienced representative can be a valuable consultant and troubleshooter.

  2. What value-added services does the company offer and how much does it cost? Depending on a group's specific needs, services - such as tallying; packing orders by the student; incentive programs; kick-off assemblies - can improve fundraising efficiency and financial success.

  3. How a company addresses the question of state sales and use tax is an indication of its thoroughness. In some states, product fundraising is exempt from tax. In others, these sales are taxable, and often the tax-exempt organizations are liable for collecting taxes. A professional fundraising representative will be familiar with your state's tax laws and how best to comply with them.

  4. How responsive will the company be should problems arise? Discuss how the company will handle unforeseen problems that could occur (e.g. incorrect or damaged products are delivered). Make sure that the representative is willing to take personal responsibility to fix these problems in a timely manner.

  5. Ask for and check out references. Talk to peers within and outside your school about the company AND the rep. Do they deliver on promises? Did they meet, exceed, or fall short of expectations? Are they a member of the Association of Fund Raisers and Direct Sellers? If your group has a successful history with a particular fundraising company, it's probably a good idea to maintain that relationship. However, it doesn't hurt to periodically check the market to ensure your group is getting the best services and results possible.

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    About the Author:

    This article is from the Spring 1997 issue of the Fundraising Edge, an online publication of the Association of Fund Raisers and Direct Sellers and is reprinted with permission. Visit their web site at for more information and a look at the complete issues of the Fundraising Edge.

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