staff and ceo working at a tableHow Can a Nonprofit Consultant Help? 

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 nonprofit consultant is to discover ideas that strengthen your nonprofit organization. How can a nonprofit consultant help? This post shows you how.


Return on Investment

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: Maximize Revenu

People frequently seek consultants to help them grow their resources. Dollars used to engage a consultant are invested in increasing 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 valid that your return is zero if you don’t apply for a grant. Yet, grants are more than a lottery. The prepared grant seeker with a credible nonprofit organization can reduce their gamble to almost zero. To help your nonprofit 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

With counsel from a consultant, an organization sought capital funds from a local foundation. They received the entire request. The Executive Director asked staff to revise the first proposal for a second foundation to save money. 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.

Second Benefit: 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 nonprofit 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 extra effort, the facility still needed a significant overhaul. If it wasn’t completed, the community goodwill garnered to date would evaporate. A simple proposal was required to obtain $200,000. Money invested to date: Over $1 million. Additional investment: Less than two percent of the new funds are needed. Result: total funding for the building of their dream.

Third Benefit: 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 nonprofit organization and threatening future funding. It was time to eliminate 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.

To contact Karen to discuss your needs, follow this link.

For more answers, check out this Nonprofit CEO Library.

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