The Consultant and The Ask

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Published February 23, 2017

The Consultant and The Ask

The other day, I was reading my copy of the current Advancing Philanthropy. There was a fine article by Eugene Scanlan.

But I wanted to call attention to one of his comments. He said that while he could attend a meeting of solicitation, “ethically he could not make the ask.”

Further, the consultant emphasized that he would say something only if he felt it was needed.

First of all, there is nothing in our Code of Ethics that indicates we cannot ask for a gift. The author may have gotten the question of making the ask mixed with the fact that we are not allowed to be paid a commission.

There is every good reason for us to be involved, as a consultant, in some selective calls, contacts, and solicitations. I happen to love doing this, but that’s not the rationale.

There are some calls that are actually easier and more appropriate for the consultant. For instance, in a campaign it may be easier for the consultant to ask the Chairman of the Board for a gift. There are situations where there isn’t anyone else in a better position to ask. Or to ask the CEO for her gift. Or some wealthy individuals you may have met along the way who are involved in the campaign or were seen by you in the feasibility study.

On our own staff, there are some Senior Managing Directors who would not be very effective in asking for a gift. They won’t do it. There are others on our staff, like Doug, who are extremely effective.

If you’re working with a consultant who is an effective solicitor, use her or him on a selective basis. Where it will do the most good. It’s a wise use of talent and your ethics remain intact.