How Can a Nonprofit Consultant Help? Part One

How many benefits can your organization gain by working with a consultant? A lot. A common one is to increase the funding available to you. But, consultants can also help you make activities work, provide decision information and teach you skills. And, when you are stuck or circling, the right consultant can help you create movement in the direction you want to go. Finally, one of the most important reasons to hire a non-profit consultant is to discover ideas that make your non-profit organization stronger. How can a nonprofit consultant help? This series shows you how.

Part One

Return on Investments

This article focuses on three types of return on investment a consultant can bring: maximizing dollars, extras that matter, and customized solutions. Examples of each are provided to demonstrate typical projects and their benefits.

First Benefit: Consultants Help You Maximize Dollars

People frequently seek consultants to help them grow their resources. Dollars used to engage a consultant are invested to increase the organization’s bottom line. For example, with grant seeking, it is impossible to predict a specific return upfront as with all investments. It is equally true that if you don’t apply for a grant, your return is zero. Yet, grants are more than a lottery. The prepared grant seeker with a credible non-profit organization can reduce his or her gamble to almost zero. To help your non-profit organization be a ready and credible fundraiser, the consultant will help you:

  • Identify good sources
  • Determine an amount to seek
  • Improve your submittal quality
  • Suggest ways to redesign your idea to make it more efficient and appealing to donors
  • Build relationships

These help you to increase your returns and, in some cases, to obtain a return.

A Penny Wise, Dollar Foolish Decision

An organization, with counsel from a consultant, sought capital funds from a local foundation. They received the full request. To save money, the Executive Director asked staff to revise the first proposal for a second foundation. Both requests were six figures. Both were funded. However, the second request lacked the first’s customization, and it received 50 percent of the anticipated gift. Money saved: $2,000. Money lost: $150,000. For the next capital campaign, the Executive asked the consultant to write both requests.

Second Benefit: Consultants Help You to Complete Projects

This benefit is a “finishing touch.” It provides you with a return on an investment already made by your organization. Relative to the total spent, your consultant investment is minuscule, but it’s the little investment that makes a big difference —like stopping a leak in a levee.

The Fixer Upper

A non-profit organization invested $1,000,000 to purchase a piece of property to help the community. This investment was followed with additional cash for repairs, volunteers’ sweat equity, plus mental and emotional energy. Even with this additional effort, the facility still needed a major overhaul. If it wasn’t completed, the community goodwill garnered to date would evaporate. A simple proposal was needed to obtain $200,000. Money invested to date: Over $1 million. Additional investment: Less than two percent of the new funds needed. Result: full funding of the building of their dream.

Third Benefit: Consultants Provide Customized Solutions

Sometimes you need individualized help that cannot be gained by attending workshops, reading a book, or tapping into other community knowledge. The third type of return on your investment creates customized solutions to solve your needs.

A Little Organization With A Big Return

The good news was that there were files; the bad news– they were a total mess. Foundation grants, government grants, and donor reports were mixed. There were duplicates of some final reports but no applications to match them. What’s more, grants with similar names were co-mingled. Deadlines were being missed, raising doubts among donors about the non-profit organization and threatening future funding. It was time to straighten out the mess and protect these significant revenue sources. Pending applications at risk: $500,000 Result: Peace of mind, no income loss, a staff with record-keeping skills and understanding. Return on investment: At least 1,000 percent.

For more about how a nonprofit consultant can help, read here.

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