Summary: In today’s podcast episode, Stephen Halasnik and his guest Nancy Halpern discuss how to hire a consultant for your nonprofit. Nonprofit needs vary from organization to organization and hiring a consultant to help tackle those issues can be crucial to addressing various needs. However, in nonprofit consulting, it is crucial that you are able to find the best fit in order to maximize your investment.
Find What Issues Need to Be Addressed First
When trying to hire a consultant, nonprofits tend to look at their budget first and then work around what their budget can handle. Instead of starting with your budget, you really should analyze your nonprofit at a deep level. A consultant can be introduced and hired in order to assist with problem resolution, but they shouldn’t have to find the issues for you. Your organization should figure out your objectives and desired outcomes, before hiring a consultant. In doing this, you need to analyze what specific issues you would like to be fixed.
Once your organization has done the deep inner work, you can focus on finding the right consulting services that will be able to provide you with the best experience possible. For example, if you are looking to increase fundraising, you can find the best consultant in order to maximize funders and stakeholders. Perhaps you should hire a consultant within a fundraising consulting firm, someone who can add value to your fundraising strategy, and has years of experience within fundraising.
Finding The Right Consultant for Your Nonprofit Consultant
After you have narrowed down the specific target areas that desire improvement, you can find the best fit and do prospect research. Once you know what specific issues you would like to be addressed, you can create specific objectives, goals, and outcomes that you want to hire for. The most important step for success is a hiring consultant that fits specific metrics Within Your Hiring Process
Part of having a strong and efficient hiring process includes having a strong job description, expectations, ways of measuring progress, and any other points that will help attract the best for the position. Without a strong job description, you will attract people with the wrong skill set, which is what you want to avoid.
After time has gone by and you have had time to gather applicants, you can analyze your top choices. How do you know who is going to be the best fit? If you have a lot of great applicants, you want to narrow down your options by finding someone in your industry. Perhaps they have experience with other nonprofits of the same size/ number of employees or have worked with a similar budget with past clients. The next thing you want to analyze is your prospect’s track record and past experience. The nonprofit sector has so many different types of work, so perhaps if you are in the healthcare or fundraising sector, you want to look for potential consultants with experience in fundraising campaigns, capital campaigns, leadership, executive search, strategic planning, etc.
Once you have narrowed down your top fundraising consultants, you will have learned more about what you want at the end of the deal. The hiring process can also help in building relationships and learning what you want to invest time and money into, and likewise what you don’t want to invest in.
Be Clear on Expectations
Once you have done all the steps above, you can focus on constructing the expectations for the future with your consults. The last thing you want to do is have undefined expectations, as this will set you up for a disaster.
You want to be clear on who your consultant is working for (maybe it’s multiple people), but let them know who they are reporting to. This is the point where you are going to want to set up an RFP (request for proposal) and be clear on what is to be measured and tracked. For example, you may outline your goals for a future fundraiser and what numbers will be met. This will also provide your consultant with the right tools and expectations for successful capacity building.
In doing this step, you want to set up clear expectations and deliverables. For example, maybe your way of measuring success and metrics is to have a check-in every 60 days to track progress. Don’t leave it up to the consultant to define the meetings, but have them set ahead of time with structure. This will ensure that your nonprofit organization knows when to expect deadlines to be met, and your consultant will have a better time frame as well.
With all of this being said about expectations, it is crucial that your executive director and nonprofit board are all on the same page with who is being chosen and what you are looking to gain out of the consultant. A good consultant also provides employee and nonprofit board training that can really make an impact.
Analyze Your Budget Last
Oftentimes staff members and executives analyze their budget first. After knowing the budget, they try to work around that and find a consultant that fits their budget. However, once you have done all the steps such as addressing the actual issues you would like to fix, you can then take a look at your budget.
If you have a small budget, you may have to go with the consultant that has 3 years instead of 20, but it all depends on what you are looking to get out of it. Look at hiring a consultant as an investment instead of an expense. If you hire a strong consultant, their efforts will pay dividends even after their work is finished.
About the Guest Nancy Halpern, From Political IQ
For more than 20 years, Nancy Halpern has helped executives, teams, divisions, and entire organizations focus on what matters most and how to get it done.
Her client list, cutting across industries and functions, ranges from the Fortune 500 to hedge funds to start-ups and includes Bank of America, Conde Nast, Ogilvy and Mather, PWC, Pfizer, Disney, Columbia University, and many others.
Nancy has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Financial Times, INC., Fortune, Fast Company, Forbes, and many others
About The Host Stephen Halasnik, Financing Solutions
Stephen Halasnik is the host of the popular, The Nonprofit MBA Podcast. The Nonprofit MBA podcast’s purpose is to help nonprofit leaders. Mr. Halasnik is the Co-founder and Managing Partner of Financing Solutions. Financing Solutions is a leading provider of Lines of Credit to nonprofits and small businesses.
Mr. Halasnik is a graduate of Rutgers University and has an Executive Masters from the MIT Birthing of Giants Entrepreneurship program. Mr. Halasnik is a best-selling Amazon author and is considered a leading authority on building great, purpose-driven businesses. Mr. Halasnik lives in New Jersey with his best friend, his wife Gina. Mr. Halasnik’s number one purpose is raising his two boys, Michael and Maxwell, to be good men.
About Financing Solutions Nonprofit Line of Credit
Financing Solutions nonprofit financing product is a great alternative to a traditional bank line of credit because it costs nothing to set up, nothing until used, and when used, is inexpensive. The credit line requires no collateral and no personal guarantees.
Nonprofit Organizations use their line of credit to help with emergencies or opportunities when cash flow is temporarily down (i.e. Payroll funding)
Please feel free to fill out the no-obligation, 2-minute nonprofit line of credit application here. The time to set up a credit line is when you don’t need it so that it is ready to be used, just in case.
Note: Financing Solutions donates 10% of its profits to various nonprofit charities