Fundraising: Alternatives to percentage-based remuneration

Camaleo / Fundraising  / Fundraising: Alternatives to percentage-based remuneration

In our previous article, we had committed to offering a series of alternatives to percentage based remuneration for fundraisers, intended for the organisations that find it hard to do any differently, as well as for professionals facing this dilemma.

Keeping our promises:


Before offering a percentage of the funds they will raise to a professional because you think this is the only option in a tense economic context, you could consider the following options:

  • Instead of recruiting someone exclusively to raise funds, divide the work into tasks so that you can move forward step by step and according to available resources. For example, you could start by recruiting a consultant to do a market research, to analyse your needs and to map potential donors. Once the situation is clarified, and when you have some funds available again, contract a consultant to design, on the basis of this new information, a fundraising or action plan. Based on this plan, assess which activities can be implemented by the organisation’s staff, volunteers or “friends”, and for which activities you need an expert. Sometimes, all you need is a little orientation, meaning external support for a very short time, which is a much cheaper option. Subcontract only the tasks you can’t complete within your current team.
  • Have you thought about training a resource person within the organization? A board member, an employee? If you have this possibility, investing in good-quality training is a worthwhile option.
  • If you feel you absolutely need a professional: Be honest, offer initial fees that you are able to pay, even if they are low, and compensate through other advantages such as home-based work, flexible working time, etc. Agree on reviewing their condition after a given time.
  • PLEASE do not set objectives exclusively in terms of funds raised. This is only a part of the work, which does not guarantee its quality. Mishandled fundraising can be highly damageable to your organisation’s image, even if it can bring in resources in the short term.  This is a pretty bad investment for the future. Set the objectives clearly: they must be tangible, achievable and must have a realistic timeline.
  • Even if your resources are limited, do always choose a qualified professional. Be honest, explain things as they are and be flexible. Value their work, not only financially.


Let’s be honest. There is no excess of work out there and we live in a highly competitive world, where people hold four Masters and speak fluently five languages. In this context, it is only human that we are tempted to accept any fundraising assignment, even if paid by percentage of the funds raised.  But be careful. Of course, we are not here to lose opportunities, but neither should we be ready to drag our principles down into the mud, nor to cumulate working hours for extremely low fees.

For those of you who are in this situation, here are some ideas that might help you and that worked out for me:

  • Explain (without any accusation) that you don’t feel at ease with this practice and that you can’t accept these conditions due to your professional ethics. However, state that you are genuinely interested by this position for different reasons (you share the organisation’s objectives, or you have experience in this particular sector, etc.)
  • Give them alternatives: for examples, to work with concrete objectives: an analysis, a funding plan, a proposal, a campaign… Or to work during a set time for a low fee, to be then reviewed according to the situation.
  • Market yourself. Explain, without arrogance, that you are a professional and that you are following the sector’s recommendations, explaining clearly the reasons that prevent you from accepting this type of agreement, but that you understand perfectly the non-profits’ difficult situation
  • Define a minimum fee for which you would agree to work (to be reviewed after a set period).
  • If you have a good contact with the organisation and if you know how to do it, you could offer to make a free situation diagnosis, in order to define if some funds could be used more efficiently and invested in fundraising.

We hope this article will be helpful to you. It is clear this is not an easy situation, and that percentage-based remuneration is a temptation, but we should be aware of the danger it represents, both for organisations and for fundraisers!

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