Fundraising COUNSEL

When your presenting questions revolve around performance, prospects, talent, efficiency, or leadership – we will move the needle.

When you need to shorten the curve and produce philanthropic revenue as quickly as possible, we bring a history of success and a fresh perspective. Our fundraising counsel is always aimed at improving your fundraising practice, achieving results with the strongest return on investment, and building your capacity for sustainable philanthropy.

Development Guild employs a well-developed and consistently-refined approach, deep sector knowledge and the practices specific to your sector. As your fundraising counsel, we partner as strategist, practitioner, coach, trainer – even as interim staff – to implement recommendations. Our team is as engaged as you need us to be, and nimble and adaptable as you develop your own capacity. We place a particular focus on your principal and major gift opportunity, recognizing that it moves the needle most dramatically.

Development Guild DDI offers a wide range of services through our fundraising counsel: audit and assessment of an overall program or a single practice of a complex institution; major gift and annual fund program design and implementation; prospect research, data analysis, and management; and President/CEO, board, and volunteer coaching.


Could we double or triple philanthropic revenue? Are we effectively engaging our leaders? Do we have the right level of talent for our opportunity? Where does ROI suggest we should invest? What activity should we discontinue? These and many other questions form the appropriate level of assessment at the launch of every fundraising engagement. From our assessment, we create risk/reward options for you to consider and recommendations particular to you. And because a recommendation could be just that, we also develop the strategy and implementation required to ensure you get the results you seek.

Baseline results provide an often new view of trends, opportunities and gaps in your current fundraising program. Measuring results by audience, effort, and gift levels, we can form an early opinion about where and how to focus ourselves and you for maximum return.

Engagement of staff and volunteer leaders through interviews and committees that invite discussion of role and talent, and provide us keen insight in terms of how to act on opportunity and gaps. We also use interviews to inform strategies for engaging and motivating leaders and volunteers.

Prospect analysis allows us to develop in partnership with you a perspective and a methodology for seeing and seizing donor and prospect potential. We are most adept at creating engagement with prospects – particularly at major and principal gift levels – that results in greater levels of support.

Audit of practice and process to create efficiency and effectiveness that best supports your frontline fundraisers and keeps the donor cycle active. We take careful consideration of critical programs: prospect research, prospect management, technology and systems infrastructure, donor communication, stewardship and donor recognition, among others.

Integration of fundraising on two fronts – within your fundraising program and across your organization – strengthens outcomes and aligns teams. Internally, we connect annual giving, major and principal gifts, planned giving, corporate and foundations relations, and operations. Externally, we create alignment of fundraising with program, finance, communications, and governance to ensure priority, investment and delivery of mission and vision.

Budget and investment should follow a thoughtful plan for return on investment. We take great care to illustrate how and when investment will create a net positive position. We believe in evidence-based and business modeling to guide the building of your team and practice.

Development of strategic options and recommendations presented with risk/reward factors and strategic analysis will help guide your decisions.


We do not think that choosing options and crafting recommendations needs to signal the end of an engagement. Very often we remain partners while you launch your program in a new direction or reform your approach. Some engagements benefit when we work together with your frontline fundraisers, operations teams and even Boards to implement a prospect management system. We also facilitate message workshops to help fundraisers more effectively pitch philanthropic priorities. And most often, we stay on to help coach staff and volunteers in the day-to-day work of engaging prospects and closing gifts.

Select Fundraising Services Clients

I have worked with many search firms in the past and my recent experience with Development Guild far surpassed all previous engagements. While Development Guild conducted our search for a Director of Development, they also provided interim fundraising counsel. Development Guild assessed staff performance, provided detailed guidelines and expectations for success, and facilitated effective group training. Most importantly, their counsel put a strong structure in place, which set up our team—and the new Director of Development—for success.

- Elisabeth Saxe, Chief Development Officer

Development Guild has been our partner for 15 years. They helped us plan for and execute two campaigns and have been instrumental in organizational planning and board development, all leading toward a more solid and dependable philanthropic program. They have truly been a valued member of our team and we are grateful for their partnership and support.

- Ed Kelley, Chief Executive Officer