What is your history as consultants?
Hueston Eilers Partners (HEP) is a recent joint venture for Fred Hueston and Walt Eilers. Together, we are “founding partners.” Collectively, we have half a century of fundraising experience and have helped clients raise over $650,000,000. Fred has 30 years and Walt 20 years. We worked together at different times over the past 25 years. All three worked together at Gardner & Associates and Horizons Stewardship.
When Walt returned to Arkansas from his corporate period at Century Telephone and WorldCom, he used his skills in research, grant research and writing, and he expanded his work to include strategic planning, as well as campaign design and management. Fred Hueston joined Walt Eilers at Gardner & Associates in 2012.
In 2015 Walt and Fred decided to combine talents and passions into an expanded joint venture, Hueston Eilers Partners. With our complementary skills, HEP offers efficiency, strength and versatility. We are a two-man operation, but so much more.
Recently, HEP added five new Associates to meet expanding client needs, Joe Schafer, Stephen Schafer, Mary Boaz, Cindy Hoffman, and Jeannette Balleza Collins.
Why did you select “Growing philanthropy.” as your tag line?
At first, we thought it catchy. We realized that our consultant role fundamentally helps nonprofits to grow and in doing so we help grow philanthropy. It expresses our mission, passion, experience and impact.
What is HEP’s specialty?
We are generalists. We have an extensive range of specialties because of the experiences that each of us brings to our partnership. Fred brings his planned giving and campaign experience with a broad range of NPOs. Walt brings the commercial experience of market research and strategic planning. He also brings writing, research and grant skills. Finally, his background in cellular and broadband offers technology and marketing strengths.
What is your greatest strength?
HEP’s ability to customize your campaign around your needs and situation is our greatest strength. A half-century of experience in fundraising enables Fred and Walt to audit/inventory a client’s operations and needs and focus on the primary elements that will most best serve your campaign.
Through customizing we bring effectiveness and efficiency to each client. Our skills take us from making the pre-campaign study to planned giving…a full-spectrum of fundraising services.
What are you working to improve?
We are concentrating on employing technology to increase client effectiveness and efficiency in an improving economy, a changing donor culture and to broaden campaign appeal.
We are all in a new and challenging era of philanthropy. As a result, HEP’s primary focus today is helping our clients to adapt to the challenges of an economy that is slowly recovering from a recession. We also help you focus on the changing demographics of the philanthropic community. The current economic and political environment requires greater use of collaboration, restructuring and in some cases consolidation. HEP offers insights into adapting to the new paradigm and making the most of a recovering economy. Walt’s experiences with the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation give insight to changing federal dynamics.
What impact do you see technology having on philanthropy?
HEP sees that technology is having a transformational impact on philanthropy. Today, donors do more research and “shopping” through websites and social media. HEP provides creativity and leadership in accessing technology to “grow philanthropy.”
HEP encourages its clients to embrace technology. We see technology as the future for nonprofits. Technology enables you to grow your outreach, volunteer base and philanthropy. Technology (smart phones, tablets, computers, broadband, software, wireless, social networking and online giving) enables each HEP client to reduce expenses, gain effectiveness (customize its message) and increase the operational efficiency of its staff and volunteers. We encourage clients to make an impact and to tell your story through coordinated and layered print (traditional) online and emailed videos, social media and network to make a “personal contact and testimony” to prospects.
HEP encourages its clients to invest in database software to enhance your stewardship, create an easy-to-use website, cultivate prospects through appropriate ecommerce vehicles and social networks and streamline your financial records with software linked to your database.
A critical step is to engage prospects and volunteers in “social networking.” Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Google + each offer new ways to inform people of your mission, needs and successes. Outreach has become and will continue to grow in a digital medium. Social media enables your organization to broaden its reach and engage prospects in your mission through messages, surveys and updates.
What is your best advice to a nonprofit considering fundraising?
First, know yourself. Look in the mirror. Look in your files. Look at your software. Look around. Test your mission against your community’s needs and your competition through a needs assessment.
Second, spend time doing internal research. Inventory your board members to determine their strengths, passions and connections. Assess your operations and operating budget. Conduct a community needs assessment to determine how well your mission is meeting community needs. Survey the marketplace to determine how many other groups are doing similar things (to determine possible collaboration partners).
Third, get a clear picture (warts and all) of your current condition. Conduct a pre-campaign or feasibility study. That effort will give both you and your consultant a realistic vision of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It will give you both statistical and verbatim responses about your mission, perception, reputation and fundraising ability.
Finally, conduct both a community needs assessment and a pre-campaign study. The needs assessment will help you focus on what is really important in your community – today. It will validate your mission or lead your NPO to make changes in your mission and vision statements. The pre-campaign study will help gauge the level of donor prospect interest and support.