Everything You Must Know About Nonprofit Consulting

Are nonprofit consultants worth the cost? If you’re thinking of hiring a consultant for your organization, you’ll need to be ready to answer this question. Board members are generally reluctant to spend money, but hiring an expert to help manage your organization and raise funds is something most nonprofits will need at one point. Read on to learn what to look for in a consultant, how much to pay, and a list of consulting firms worth checking out.

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Everything You Must Know About Nonprofit Consulting

Nonprofit consulting may have a better return on investment than you think.

Managing a nonprofit organization is certainly hard work. It takes daily dedication to keep all the moving pieces together. Some days it can be downright overwhelming and nonprofit staff is spread thin. At many nonprofits, some staff positions have been vacant for months or even years and the candidate pool to fill those positions can be shallow.

Asking for outside help and hiring nonprofit consultants can balance the workload and really pay off by bringing in a skillset from outside the organization.

  1. How do Nonprofit Consultants Help a Nonprofit?
  2. What to Look for in a Nonprofit Consultant?
  3. How Much Can Nonprofit Consulting Cost?
  4. 3 Things to Consider Before Getting Started with Nonprofit Consulting
  5. The 4 Best Nonprofit Consulting Firms

How do Nonprofit Consultants Help a Nonprofit?

Nonprofit consultants are well-versed in various aspects of the nonprofit sector. These specialized consultants can jump in to help with a variety of special projects – both long-term and short-term – and can bring new life to an organization by coming up with fresh ideas and outside perspectives.

They can step in to fill some gaps in the organization such as:

  • Nonprofit fundraising
  • Managing capital campaigns and other big projects
  • Prospect research
  • Creating and improving donor relationships
  • Social media and other marketing strategies
  • Developing a technology strategy
  • Event planning
  • Feasibility study for the nonprofit and campaigns
  • Board development
  • Strategic planning
  • Graphic design
  • Grant writing
  • Nonprofit accounting
  • Human resources management
  • IT services

With Donorbox Premium, you can have game-changing consulting services! We’ve designed an affordable success package to help nonprofits with a fundraising coach (or fundraising consultant), dedicated account manager, tech wizards, and more. Our coaching will help you with accountability check-ins, goal-setting, fundraising ideas, strategies, and more. On the other hand, the account manager will always be there as a point of contact to help you along the way. Our tech wizards will get you set up and solve all your technical issues on priority.  Also, if you need any help deciding which tools can maximize your donation potential and help you meet your annual fundraising goals, fret not! Our experts will be right there for you.

Set up a 30-min Zoom call and discuss your goals with us, Donorbox Premium team would love to help!

What to Look For in a Nonprofit Consultant?

nonprofit consultants

As you think through your organization’s needs and how a nonprofit consultant might be a fitting piece of the puzzle, you may want to consider the consultant’s experience and success in:

  • The size of your nonprofit – Are you a small nonprofit, mid-sized organization, or large nonprofit? Your ideal consultant should possess experience working with similar types of nonprofits.
  • The age of your nonprofit – Are you a startup or a mature nonprofit (or somewhere in between)? Being an experienced nonprofit, you wouldn’t want to rely on a consultant who has only ever worked with startups and may lack the right strategy-making skills.
  • The outcome you are seeking – Are you looking to supplement your staff? Maybe you’d like someone to come in and identify some problems and provide a roadmap for moving forward. Perhaps you need someone with specific expertise like fundraising campaigns or communications management.

Finding a nonprofit consultant who has successfully worked with organizations similar to yours is likely a good choice. Before hiring anyone, be sure to review a consultant’s work and experience and discuss any needs your nonprofit has with your board of directors.

Pro tip: Get your board on board. Your staff, your board, and your consultant can make a cohesive team. Take time to introduce your consultant to your board and ensure there are regular interactions for updates or reports when appropriate. Work together with your consultant to show your board that the partnership is a good return on investment.

How Much Can Nonprofit Consulting Cost?

It depends on the consultant’s years of experience, the location of your nonprofit, and the industry. You’d want to hire a consultant on a pay-per-hour basis, project basis, or retainer basis.

An hourly rate can be the most affordable for smaller organizations. However, discuss how the rate changes depending on the time of the year or the service being provided. The average hourly rate for nonprofit consultants is between $75 and $175.

For the project basis structure, nonprofit consultants will quote you a fixed fee for working on a project for a definite period of time. It will vary depending on how complex the project is and how long it is likely to continue.

Having a consultant on a retainer basis can be beneficial for long-term projects. When you know you’ll be needing the consultant for a month or a quarter, you can either pay them an upfront fee or on a weekly/monthly basis. Also, check with them about any extra costs associated.

Tips on negotiating the best fee structure for nonprofit consulting –

  • Have a clear understanding of your budget.
  • Be very clear about the scope of work and the impact it will have on your nonprofit.
  • Check for discounts on bundled services.
  • Consult more than one firm or consultant, and get competitive bids from them.
  • Be ready to compromise a little to be able to get the best nonprofit consulting services.

Donorbox Premium has a highly affordable pricing structure for nonprofits. Moreover, it is not fixed for all; we’ll customize it according to your nonprofit needs and the coaching, support, and software add-ons that you choose for yourself! Know more here.

Note: Do not opt for the commission-based fee structure for fundraising consultants. It is against the ethics of fundraising as per the National Council of Nonprofits.

3 Things to Consider Before Getting Started with Nonprofit Consulting

nonprofit consulting

When thinking about inviting a nonprofit consultant to partner with your organization, here are 3 things to tackle:

1. Getting over the sticker shock

Recruiting and hiring staff isn’t always an option. It is easy to assume that employees cost less than consultants and service providers. But when you hire a consultant outside of your organization or take part in managed services, you can get a high-level expert for a fraction of the cost of hiring a staff person with that talent. Consultants have the skills to be independent and often carry more specific experience than the typical candidate pool.

Sometimes smaller organizations will get a sticker shock when they talk to a consultant. The pay rate per hour may be more for a consultant but overall costs are likely to be less because there are no payroll taxes or benefits to fund. Onboarding time is often quicker, as well, which eliminates some of the costs associated with adding an employee.

Take some time to factor in compensation, benefits, taxes, and other expenses of full-time staff. Once those calculations are complete, it’s clear whether or not it’s a better deal to outsource.

2. Leveling the playing field

Healthy, collaborative relationships with nonprofit consultants can really level the playing field for small nonprofit organizations so they can enjoy the same benefits.

Recruiting and retaining top talent can be challenging for small nonprofits. A nonprofit consultant often has valuable subject matter expertise and a strong track record of successfully completing projects and campaigns that can add value and success to your operation. Nonprofits might have easier access to highly qualified, skilled, and successful consultants they otherwise would not have the budget to hire and retain.

Pro tip: Trust your fundraising consultant’s advice. Lean into a collaborative relationship. Be sure to have regular check-ins, ask questions, and give feedback. Then, return the value by providing space and trust your consultant to do a good job.

3. Thinking outside the firm

The nonprofit consulting industry is made of all shapes and sizes.

Choosing a large nonprofit consulting firm can have advantages. These firms have demonstrated expertise and worked with many clients. A large nonprofit consulting firm also offers a large consulting pool with diverse talent. They also come with strategic planning expertise to help boost your nonprofit fundraising, marketing strategy, capital campaigns, and more. The reputation and prestige of larger nonprofit consulting firms can be beneficial to building trust and can often come at a hefty price.

Small nonprofit consulting firms vary in scope. Some small firms have been created by senior consultants who previously worked at large firms. They may have a very specific focus, such as communications, marketing, or capital campaign management. Small firms are noted for their agility and flexibility and can sometimes be more cost-effective.

Solo consultants may look quite different from both large and small firms. A solo consultant is one person who is not tied to a bigger organization. They work with their clients directly and are often more embedded in the organization. Oftentimes these consultants can be hidden gems. They can be found through referrals or on LinkedIn.

Pro tip #1: Ask your network for consultant referrals. Sometimes your best consultants are not from the biggest nonprofit consulting firms and are, instead, hidden gems. Start a conversation with nonprofits in your area or your respected peers.

Pro tip #2: Once you’ve found the right nonprofit consultant or a good nonprofit consulting firm, create an agreement that includes the deliverables, fee structure, scope of work, timeline, and the project description. Take legal advice and help for this important step.

The 4 Best Nonprofit Consulting Firms

1. Averill Fundraising Solutions

best nonprofit consulting firms

The Averill Fundraising Solutions consulting firm has an overall 60 years of experience with full-service fundraising consulting. They have served the following types of organizations –

  • Hospitals and medical centers
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Human service organizations
  • Membership societies
  • Arts and culture organizations
  • Secondary and higher education institutions
  • Social groups

The nonprofit consulting services they provide include –

  • Campaign planning
  • Feasibility studies
  • Leadership learning
  • Executive search
  • Annual fund direction
  • Campaign direction

This consulting firm has offices in Chicago, Toronto, and Los Angeles, and can be contacted on the website.

2. Donorly

best nonprofit consulting firms

Donorly identifies itself as a team of seasoned fundraisers who believe that donor research is the essence of fundraising. They have helped raise over $150 million. This can be a good fundraising consulting firm for your nonprofit to spruce up your fundraising strategy for the next project.

Their nonprofit consulting services include –

  • Temporary nonprofit staffing to small and mid-sized teams.
  • Prospect research.
  • A holistic fiscal year fix service.
  • Tele-fundraising training.
  • Feasibility studies.
  • Capital campaign counseling.

Donorly has its office in New York City and the team can be contacted on the website by filling out a form.

3. DNL OmniMedia

best nonprofit consulting firms

DNL OmniMedia has worked with various nonprofit organizations since 2006. Their focus has been to maximize the impact of technology on nonprofit operations. Their nonprofit consulting services include the following –

  • Nonprofit web development
  • Technical strategy
  • Nonprofit CRM and data management
  • Fundraising strategy
  • Nonprofit mobile app development
  • Nonprofit marketing
  • Analytics
  • Nonprofit advocacy

This nonprofit consulting firm has worked with many educational organizations, healthcare, and faith-based nonprofits. They have their office in New York and can be contacted online from the website.

4. Catapult Fundraising

Catapult Fundraising is a full-service firm for nonprofits with its headquarters in Nevada. They aim at providing exceptional fundraising outcomes by helping build strong donor relationships. This fundraising-cum-consulting firm comprises experienced and adept fundraisers and board members with decades of fundraising experience. Let’s have a look at their nonprofit consulting services –

  • Campaign readiness
  • Capacity building
  • Capital campaign services
  • Major gift initiatives including prospect research
  • Annual fund connect
  • Online fundraising events
  • On-site phone program

The nonprofit consulting firm has worked with education, faith-based, healthcare, arts, social services, and broadcasting organizations. Nonprofits can fill out a form on their website, including the industry, budget, the service needed, and more to receive the pricing details.

What Do You Think?

Nonprofit consulting helps you take your organization and its reach to the next level. Nonprofit consultants exactly know the people you need to approach, be it fundraising, board development, strategy making, event planning, or even volunteering, and more. This blog helps you with pointers to get started with nonprofit consulting.

Whether you’d hire an individual consultant or go for one of the nonprofit consulting firms is for you to decide, but now you know what you must look for before settling for one.

Have you had success using a nonprofit consultant? Which nonprofit consulting services did you opt for? How do you decide whether to hire or contract with a consultant? What additional thoughts and tips do you have, that other nonprofits should consider? Visit Donorbox Community to continue the conversation.

Once you’ve decided on hiring a nonprofit consultant, you’d need an efficient fundraising tool to implement all the fundraising strategies and ideas they bring to the table. Donorbox helps nonprofits with simple-to-use and easy-to-set-up online fundraising and donor management features including Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer fundraising, Text-to-Give, Memberships, Recurring Donation Forms, Customizable Donation Pages, QuickDonate, and more. Check them out on our website.

Donorbox Premium will help you fundraise better with the best tools and expert coaching. Book a demo here.

Our Nonprofit Blog gives you important tips and resources on fundraising, donor management, and running your nonprofit better. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a curated list of our best resources in your inbox every month.

A long-time development professional, Cara currently serves as Fundraising Coach for fundraising software platform, Donorbox, and focuses on fundraising consulting with nonprofits of all sizes, specializing in project management and fundraising strategy. Her expertise is in coaching, annual fundraising, project management, and communications. She has both a BS and Ed.M. from the University of Illinois, with specialized study of adult learning. She also earned her Certified Fund-Raising Executive (CFRE) and Project Management Professional (PMP) credentials. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and is actively involved with organizations focused on providing relief from homelessness and food insecurity in Indianapolis and New York City.

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