What benefits can your organization gain by working with a consultant that specializes in nonprofit organizations? A lot. A common one is to increase the money available to you. But, consultants can also help to make your activities work, identify and 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 consultant is to gain ideas to make your nonprofit organization stronger. How can a nonprofit consultant help? This series shares how.

Part Two

Doing Better Doing Good

This article focuses on working with a consultant to:

  • Make your activities work
  • Build skills
  • Manage decisions

Examples are provided to illustrate typical projects and their outcomes.

Third Benefit: Make Your Activities Work

A consultant can help you make your activities work. Activities can include organization-wide needs like fine-turning management to obtain a specific staff response, strategy planning for your older adult program or designing a new service activity at price you can afford. Making activities work might focus on identifying funding or making your grant applications more competitive, etc. You are unique, but your situation is often similar to those a consultant has helped successfully resolve.

Make it Work

“Last year, our staff retreat accomplished little. The Chair dominated the conversation, even as he explained he wouldn’t do it. It was so helpful having your leadership this year. First, we got a lot done. Second everyone participated. And finally, the Chair was more comfortable and he was pleased with the outcome.”  Anonymous.

Former Outcome: Stalemate and frustration. New Outcome: Success

Fourth Benefit: Teach You Skills

People frequently hire a consultant to help them gain new or upgrade skills. Just as a personal coach can help you develop, implement and improve an exercise program; so the right consultant can helps you develop, implement and use new skills in your organization.

Learn a Skill, Use a Skill

A nonprofit arts organization successfully competes for local arts funding. However, it is dissatisfied with the amount it receives because it achieves more of the funder’s goals than several competing applicants who receive more. The consultant helps the organization identify several responses; two are selected.

One is to use the existing review process to encourage the funder to more closely align their giving with their goals (Skill: Identify the situation and takes steps to improve it.) Another strategy is to increase funds and recognition for the organization by seeking grants from the state’s cultural funding and the National Endowment for the Arts. Two successful grants are developed. As the consultant creates the applications, she teaches the “whys and hows” of the process. (Skill: Develop ongoing applications with ease.)

Outcome: The organization gains $50,000 in additional funds plus recognition and credibility to use as leverage in the local decision-making process.

Fifth Benefit: Identify and Provide Decision Information

All organizations face decisions. These can be simple, like a choice between two vendors or far-reaching, like selecting a strategy to fulfill you mission or hiring an executive director. When you’re plodding about a decision your often need to take one large banana split Mother May I step forward. A consultant can help you take that step by clarifying your choices and identifying the risks and benefits of each.

The Giant Step Forward: Future Choice

A nonprofit organization faced an opportunity to expand. While it finds capital funds relatively easy to raise, raising ongoing operating funds is a long-term challenge. The Board needs to decide to pursue or not pursue the expansion. The consultant helps by providing two kinds of decision information:

  1. Information from other groups that successfully made similar decisions
  2. A process where the Board collects and examines all knowledge about their options and weighs the most important factors

Outcome: In an afternoon retreat, the Board moves from confusion to a firm decision and sets forth to develop a practical plan to work on the expansion, while simultaneously shoring up operating resources thus takes one giant step out of a decision quagmire.

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

For more answers, check out this Nonprofit  CEO Library.

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