The consultant industry is big business, processing over $250 billion each year and growing. Consultants help identify a wide variety of business operational needs, but nonprofit-focused consultants make up 10% of the entire market.
And as it stands, there are going to be some big changes coming when it comes to how nonprofits work with consultants. With more data available to quantify the success of an organization’s operations, gone will be the days of relying on “gut decisions” and centralizing knowledge into one departmental silo.
Instead we will see a shift toward consulting models that democratize access to knowledge, interconnect resources to create an organizational ecosystem, and create scalable and repeatable results.
While the first step is to establish a detailed scope of services that you are looking for when finding a consultant and then start to research which consultants will best help your organization, the really tricky part is to then narrow down and choose a consultant. In this post, we wanted to empower organizations working with their nonprofit consultants to establish a fair and transparent process in understanding how a consultant will work with their organization.
There are several ways to qualify a consultant from the get go when doing your research, but let’s narrow down the focus to a few key areas to pay attention to:
While your organization should not contract with a consultant solely because of style over substance, the way in which an consultant outlines their vision for your organization is important when considering whether you should contract with them or not. Some key areas to focus on for the proposal are:
How a consultant pitches their business to you is emblematic of how they will communicate with you throughout the project itself. A poorly presented proposal is a big red flag that the consultant will not put the care into the project itself once the contract is signed.
Understanding the contract terms is extremely important when working with any third party, but with consultants there are additional elements that should be taken into account.
You should rightfully expect the consultant to also protect themselves from clients attempting to utilize their services without pay. Consultants can and should play a role in the long-term health of an organization, either stewarding them through the initial stages of becoming a nonprofit all the way to managing some of the most important growth campaigns that an organization may have.
With the right consultant, your organization can scale heights never before imagined. Yet finding and then contracting with the right one will only become more difficult as more people try their hand at nonprofit consulting. The concepts outlined here should go a long way toward ensuring you find that perfect partner.
Neon One has invested resources into creating the industry’s most comprehensive program for vetting nonprofit consultants. We’re excited to work with partners like Harbor Compliance on curating your entire nonprofit ecosystem. Get more information here.
=Tim Sarrantonio is a team member at Neon One and has more than 10 years of experience working for and volunteering with nonprofits.Tim has raised over $3 million for various causes, engaged and enhanced databases of all sizes, procured multiple successful grants, and formulated engaging communications and fundraising campaigns for several nonprofits. He has presented at international conferences and is a TEDx speaker on technology and philanthropy. He volunteers heavily in his home Niskayuna, NY.