What Is A Nonprofit Consultant And When Should You Use One

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Nonprofit consultants are professionals who work for nonprofits. They help nonprofits by providing advice on a variety of topics including managing finances, strategy, fundraising, marketing, technology, and organizational design.

Nonprofit consultants should not be mistaken for philanthropists or donors. These professionals have in-depth knowledge about the nonprofit sector and can provide guidance to individuals or organizations looking to become more involved in a nonprofit.

When should you use a nonprofit consultant? When you need to take the next step in growing your organization. It is an opportunity to receive the help that rapidly improves an area of need. This provides efficiency and expertise for a fixed price. Examples of when to use a nonprofit consultant include: needing to grow and diversify your donor base, planning future staff roles and design of your organizational chart, improve gift processing and thank you processes, getting foundational technology right for future-proofing, or helping create a long term organizational strategy and plan for growth.

Having an experienced nonprofit consultant will cost a bit more but can yield bigger results. Let’s look into it a bit more.

Nonprofit Consultants Understand the Environment of Nonprofits

Nonprofits are often faced with the challenge of not having enough money to run or grow. They are also in an environment where they have to be competitive and sustainable. Nonprofit consultants, who have expert knowledge in a specific area, can help nonprofits address these challenges and more.

Nonprofits are not only in charge of raising money but also in implementing the project for which they raised the funds. However, with the help of nonprofit consultants, it is easier for them to find sponsors and donors who are willing to fund their projects while getting hands-on experience.

Nonprofit consultants can help you develop strategies that are sustainable and scalable. They can also help you fundraise for your organization through the resources they have such as connections with donors or connections with foundations that donate money to nonprofits.

When selecting a nonprofit consultant, be sure to perform an in-depth interview to assess their ability to help you with your growth needs.

What are areas of fundraising that nonprofit consultants can help with?

Facing a lack of resources or funding, nonprofits often find themselves in a difficult situation. Fundraising consultants can help with many different aspects of fundraising, from managing donor relations to creating and executing on marketing campaigns.

A fundraiser’s job is not only about asking for donations. A good fundraiser will also be able to assess the nonprofit’s needs and determine what type of assistance the nonprofit will need.

Fundraising consultants can do a variety of things to help a nonprofit grow its donor base or maximize its revenue through events. The best part is that they don’t take any commission- they are paid for their time and expertise by the nonprofits they work with.

Areas of nonprofit fundraising consulting include:

  • Fundraising strategy– Create a strategy of fundraising by reviewing giving channels, the categorization of gifts, donor capacity, gift frequency, and diversity of fundraising.
  • Donor wealth screening- As part of the individual gift-ask process, it is important to consider the potential giving capacities of donors or leads. This helps you understand how likely they are to give and how much they could potentially give.
  • Gift Processing and Thank-You Processing- When a donor gives a gift, it is important to thank them well. Doing this in a meaningful and timely manner requires excellent processes as gift volume increases.
  • Raising Funds- Professional fundraising consultants actually do just that, they raise funds on behalf of your organization.
  • Donor Analytics- Unless you are just starting, you have years of donor information available in spreadsheets or a CRM. Analyzing giving patterns, locales, and campaigns can help an organization understand where to invest more in their efforts and where to stop investing.

Nonprofit Consultants Can Help You with Your Marketing Strategy

Successful marketing often requires an outside consultant. Other companies might think they have everything covered, but they don’t always have the specific knowledge or experience to be successful. A consultant can help ease these challenges with their expertise and experience.

A common misconception is that a marketing consultant will charge you a lot of money upfront for their services. While some organizations might require you to pay well in advance, most consultants prefer to charge on an ongoing basis, where they get paid for each project they complete.

Nonprofit marketing consultants can help with some of the following areas:

  • Digital marketing
  • Digital content marketing
  • Website development and content creation
  • Landing page optimization
  • A/B Testing
  • Social media marketing
  • Influencer partnerships
  • Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
  • Email marketing
  • Direct mail response

A Successful Nonprofit Consulting Engagement Takes More than Work Ethic, It Takes Client Planning

Nonprofits are often struggling with fundraising and finding the right donors to invest in their cause. One of the biggest challenges they face is how to plan for a successful engagement.

We should not underestimate the importance of a well-planned engagement with a nonprofit consultant. Here’s what you should plan for before engaging a nonprofit consultant:

Before you engage a nonprofit consultant, it’s important to have an understanding of the processes they can provide. This includes figuring out what needs are most important to your organization and how much money you are able to spend on the project. There is also a need to decide which type of nonprofit consultant best fits your needs and objectives. Once these decisions are made, it’s time to review the list.

The list of things to review in preparation for engaging a nonprofit consultant is primarily focused on the client organization. You need to spend time reviewing your own organization before proceeding with the search for a consulting firm.

The best way to approach this is by asking yourself four questions:

  1. What strengths does my organization have?
  2. What are my organization’s goals?
  3. What are my expectations of the nonprofit consultant?
  4. How will you measure the success of the engagement?

Once you have answered these questions, you will be able to better interview potential consultants until you find one that you connect well with, understands your needs and has reference clients for the same type of work they can share with you.

Also, be sure you understand the fee structures available when negotiating with a consultant about potential engagements.

Conclusion and Article Summary

Nonprofit consultants are professionals with experience and knowledge in a variety of fields including fundraising, digital marketing, special events, technology solutions, and more. Good nonprofit consultants will have experience specifically with nonprofits and understand the nuances of how organizations operate versus a for-profit company.

Hiring a nonprofit consultant is not a sign of weakness but rather a sign that you need specific expertise to grow to the next level in your organization’s journey.

However, be sure to plan the strategic needs of the organization, prioritize those needs and then plan the consulting engagement well including costs and time commitments. Few consulting engagements will be hands-off for organizational leaders. Plan to invest your time as well.

In a nutshell, nonprofit consultants help nonprofits strategize, organize, utilize technology, plan how to raise funds as well as implement those projects which they have raised funds for.

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