Interview with Mary Jo Ketchum
  August 30, 2000

How does one justify to the community paying for a consultant?
In other words, how does one make the public comfortable about this decision and get them behind it? After all, somebody will have a friend who has a cousin who is retired who will do it for next to nothing, right?

You can use the word, consultant, without that modifier! Yet I have met the so-called high-powered consultants. There is a place for them. They are very good at what they do. If a library's project requires their services, it probably won't fly without them. However, not all consultants fit into that categorization.

In fact, at a forum in New York City last spring, a table of consultants convened, and of the ten of us, not two were alike in style or even in focus. So, to generalize is to obscure the potentials of a valuable resource that a library just might benefit from.

The administrators and boards whom I am acquainted with have recognized their own shortcomings in achieving the funding goals set before them for their institution, and have sought outside assistance. It is not uncommon for a core group to make this determination and to sell it to the rest.

Often, a consultant's prior achievements are all it takes to sell the merits of expending money to make more money. One very non-high-powered fund-raising expert and colleague of mine regularly assists churches in raises millions of capital campaign dollars. He gets jobs on the basis of his past successes. It is very persuasive to a community to imagine putting a building up in three years instead of ten, by raising the money in the next 18 months with a consultant's assistance.


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