RFP - Consultant, Strategic Development Plan


The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) seeks proposals for a Fundraising Consultant (individual or organization) to lead our Development Team, Executive Leadership Team, and Board of Directors in evaluating our fundraising strategies and developing a multi-year, values-based strategic fundraising plan for the organization.


NEFA is one of six regional arts organizations established with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to strengthen the national arts infrastructure by cultivating the arts on a regional level. NEFA invests in artists and communities and fosters equitable access to the arts, enriching the cultural landscape in New England and the nation. Today, NEFA’s programs are regional, national, and international in scope, and support artists and communities through grants and other opportunities in dance, music, theater, and public art.

NEFA values an equitable, diverse, and inclusive world, which we interpret as all people having fair access to the tools and resources they need to realize creative and community endeavors. We acknowledge structural inequities that have excluded individuals and communities from opportunity based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, class, age, and geography, and strive to counter those inequities in our work.

In 2018, NEFA published a three-year strategic plan, which included a new mission, vision, and values for the organization. Goal 4 of the strategic plan focuses on our value, impact, and sustainability through the lenses of increased organizational capacity and furthering equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in all of our work. The objectives under Goal 4 include clarifying our value proposition, engaging new funding partners, encouraging investment in our internal capacity, and engaging more deeply as a thought partner with existing and potential partners.

An outcome of this goal is our desire to articulate a specific and measurable strategic fundraising plan, based on NEFA’s current work and capacity, for FY21 (June 1, 2020–May 31, 2021) and beyond. We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic will have unanticipated impacts on this work, and that since embarking on this planning process in January 2020 our world has significantly changed. This project is arguably even more important now, and we plan to move forward recognizing the new challenges we are all facing.

Project Scope

NEFA seeks an experienced consultant to work with our two-person development department; Sharon Timmel, Director, and Sarah Silva, Coordinator, as well as our Executive Leadership Team, to create a comprehensive, multi-year, values-based strategic fundraising plan. Building on the work NEFA’s development team has done to collect data internally from staff on current development efforts, this consultant will lead efforts to collect data from additional stakeholders, analyze findings, and present recommendations to maximize our effectiveness in future years. This consultant will conduct a workshop with NEFA’s Board of Directors at an upcoming board meeting. This workshop will be for approximately 25-35 people during the week of October 26-30, 2020 (exact date TBD) in Boston, MA. (Note: Board meeting may be held remotely depending on circumstances related to COVID-19.) The consultant will work with the NEFA Development Team to prepare content and NEFA staff will coordinate meeting logistics.

If you are considering submitting a proposal and would like supporting documents with additional information about our current development strategies, please reach out to Sharon Timmel, Development Director at [email protected].


  • Participate in planning meetings with NEFA’s Development Team, NEFA’s Development and Communications Board Committee, and potential additional NEFA stakeholders
  • Organize and lead information gathering meetings with external NEFA stakeholders such as funding partners and peer organizations
  • Deliver an agenda, curriculum, and materials for Board workshop
  • Facilitate a workshop for NEFA’s Board of Directors in Boston, Massachusetts during the week of October 26-30, 2020 (exact date TBD) with approximately 25-35 participants
  • Conduct a debrief session with the NEFA Development Team
  • Deliver a completed multi-year Strategic Fundraising Plan with SMART goals, clear annual benchmarks, and an evaluation tool


  • Request for Proposals Open: May 20, 2020
  • Proposal Deadline: June 30, 2020
  • Review and Follow-Up for Applications: June 16–30, 2020
  • Consultant is Notified of Selection: July 1, 2020
  • Information and Planning Calls/Meetings: July 6, 2020 – September 30, 2020
  • Materials for Board Workshop due to NEFA: October 9, 2020
  • Workshop Date: one day during the week of October 26-30, 2020 (exact date TBD)
  • Plan Completed and Delivered: December 31, 2020


Desired Skills and Expertise of Consultant

  • Proven track record for excellence in developing strategic fundraising plans and developing an organization’s fundraising capacity
  • Excellent communication, active listening, and facilitation skills
  • Demonstrated training experience in diverse teams, and experience with various organizations and senior leadership
  • Alignment with NEFA’s mission, vision, and values
  • People of color, people of all gender identities, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, are strongly encouraged to apply
  • Individuals with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. The meeting space is accessible for persons using wheelchairs and includes an accessible restroom. Other requests for accommodations are welcome.


Proposal Requirements

  1. A one-page letter of interest describing your experience and approach to strategic fundraising planning, examples of past work, etc.
  2. A proposal and workplan that includes the deliverables described in the RFP
  3. Outlines of responsibilities for both NEFA and the selected consultant
  4. A project budget and billing schedule, as well as all costs payable by NEFA clearly defined
  5. Two references


Proposed Evaluation Criteria

  1. Overall match between the RFP requirements and proposal: Understanding of scope and objectives, and completeness and readability of response
  2. Consultant alignment with NEFA’s mission, vision, and values
  3. Qualifications and previous work of consultant
  4. Demonstrated ability of consultant to carry out fundraising plan of similar character and size
  5. Cost effectiveness


Contact and Submission

Please direct questions and submit complete proposals to Sharon Timmel, NEFA’s Development Director (617-951-0010 x511, [email protected]).


Terms and Conditions

By no means does the RFP process imply any agreement or contractual obligation. The RFP only serves to gauge interest for the project by respective firms. Costs involved in preliminary activities will not be reimbursed by NEFA.


About NEFA

The New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) invests in artists and communities and fosters equitable access to the arts, enriching the cultural landscape in New England and the nation. NEFA serves as a regional partner for the National Endowment for the Arts, New England’s state arts agencies, and private foundations. Learn more about NEFA’s vision, values, and funding.


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