Fundraising Counsel: Assessment, Annual Giving, and Implementation

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, strategic mindset, strong analytics, and a fresh perspective. Our fundraising counsel is always aimed at improving your fundraising practice, maximizing existing data, achieving results with the strongest return on investment, and building your capacity for sustainable philanthropy.

Development Guild employs a dynamic, data-driven approach that is paired with deep sector knowledge and the practices specific to your sector. As your fundraising counsel, we partner as strategist, analyst, 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, and annual giving as appropriate, recognizing their ability to move the needle most dramatically.

Development Guild DDI offers a wide range of strategic and tactical services through our fundraising counsel: audit and assessment of an overall program or a single practice of a complex institution; major gift and annual giving 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—which maximizes the insights from your existing data—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.

Examination of a five-year baseline analysis to understand trends that have contributed to fundraising success, new donor acquisition, donor retention, gaps in programming, and to create assumptions that form a springboard for looking ahead. This baseline examines results from four important angles: audience contributing, gift levels being realized, effort resulting in dollars, and purpose of dollars. Our analysis also considers return on investment and cost per dollar raised.

Funding priorities workshops where we learn and assess what fundraisers should focus on and why, depth and breadth of content and cost, existing data sets and how they can inform our work, engagement of various stakeholders, and whether priorities are likely to have the impact and results from donors that your organization desires.

Building of a data-driven prospect model that scaffolds over what you see as your foundational capacity data and extends it to a useful model that blends giving behaviors and patterns (loyalty and gift levels), engagement (where useful), assignment, and moves management to assess capacity and identify various types of prospects.

Formation of a staff-to-opportunity analysis that combines prospect opportunity with an understanding of each job function on your team such that we can build a staff investment plan that may be required to optimize fundraising success.

Engagement of organizational leaders and volunteer stakeholders through one-to-one interviews to help us understand how they engage, when they engage, whether they are advocates for fundraising, and whether they have what they need from the development team to succeed. Further, this engagement allows us to learn their perceptions of the fundraising program from their vantage point.

Goal and metric setting that reflects the intersection of your current program, opportunities for philanthropic growth, shifts in staff and talent that will impact results, best practice around revenue expectations, and investment budget.

Annual Giving

Is your annual giving program as robust as it could be? Is it providing a pipeline of major donor prospects? Do you need to raise more unrestricted funds? A robust annual giving program is the foundation for ongoing, unrestricted support for most nonprofit organizations and is key to filling your pipeline for major gift prospects. By analyzing past giving, comparing that data against trends in the market and leveraging outside data, we can determine how to shift your annual giving strategy to achieve maximum results.

Whether you need to establish an annual fund or want to take your existing annual giving program to the next level, we can provide strategic direction and support for your annual giving program and help you achieve your annual fund goals.

As former annual fund leaders, senor consultants on our team can partner with you to bring annual giving best practices to your program and/or strengthen those that you already have. We can assess your current program and make recommendations for enhancing your work and elevating your results. We can partner with you to identify the best direct response agency that aligns with your work, mission and goals, and we can help develop and implement sustainable leadership annual giving programs.


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 new program, processes, or systems, or even assist in onboarding new fundraising staff. 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.

Development Guild’s fundraising counsel has been so helpful; their expert guidance and knowledge of best practices has helped us reach new levels of success especially with our relatively new major gift programs and multiyear campaigns. It’s been great to have professionals to bounce ideas off as we determine the right path forward. Everyone at our museum has appreciated their expertise – from our development team to our executive staff to our board. I feel like they truly understand the uniqueness of our museum and the counsel that we need as they are committed to our success.

- Dona Lee Kelly, Director of Development

For 50 years Pine Street Inn’s mission to end homelessness has attracted thousands of loyal and generous donors, many of whom we did not really know. Five years ago, when we were planning the largest fundraising campaign in our history, Development Guild lead a comprehensive data analysis process that identified significant untapped donor potential and gave me and our board confidence that our campaign was achievable. Now, with the campaign successfully completed, we face the challenge of engaging thousands of new donors drawn to our mission in the early days of the pandemic. Once again, we are partnering with Development Guild to provide a thorough analysis of our donor data base so that our advancement team can make informed decisions and focus our efforts where they can have the greatest impact.

- Lyndia Downie, President and Executive Director

Development Guild was a great partner during a very fluid time at our organization. They were with us on the ground, and able to collaborate well with all members of our staff while never missing a detail. They understood how to navigate transition while remaining focused on our goals. Furthermore, because of their diverse sector experience, they provided an amazing sounding board for all our questions and ideas. I would strongly recommend their counsel. 

- Leslie Kolterman, Chief Philanthropy Officer