How to Hire a Consultant: It’s impossible to go it alone; especially when your organization is lean and your to-do lists are fat! Enter “the consultant.” How do mission-driven organizations find the right one though? Today’s guest is the co-founder of Nonprofit.ist an online community that connects consultants with the mission-driven organizations they can help.
In order or understand how to hire a consultant, you should be clear on your reasons: (1) you’re dealing with a question that’s outside your expertise; (2) you have a persistent challenge that won’t go away; and (3) even though you may have the skillset on your staff, you want an outside person to come in and help.
A clear understanding of your challenge and a clear understanding and agreement inside the organization of what kind of person you want to work with helps you find the right person.
Types of engagements: (1) an expert to come in and tell you how it should be done; (2) a facilitator who’s going to help the organization have good conversations that are going to lead you down a pathway to answer; (3) a very technical person that you can just hand everything off to and not worry about it.
RFPs do NOT give more people access to the work. Only larger-staff consultants typically have time to fill out RFPs. Instead, consider RFCs (request for conversations).
However, the good part of RFPs is that they include (1) a written understanding of what your challenges are, and what your parameters are; (2) a clear description of the problem and a clear description of what success looks like; (3) some thoughts about timing or at least a timeline, and (4) a budget associated with it.
When consultants are pushed on you by a Board member: Inform them that your policy is to at least two or three different organizations about this potential work. Have clarity around your process and framework for making the decision. For example, “We need someone who is a good fit, with X qualifications and Y kind of experience.”
For consultants: Figure out where you really want to be working. How are you going to say no or not right now? Or it’s not your work, how will you introduce them to someone else?
About Our Guest
Heather Yandow is a collaborative co-conspirator and creative thinker with over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit world.
Inspired by issues that touch her heart and organizations invested in relationships, Heather gets joy out of helping groups move forward from chaos to clarity. Phrases like “adaptive leadership” and “change management” are sure to get her mind churning.
Before Heather joined Third Space in 2010, she was the Director of Development and Communications with the NC Conservation Network, a statewide network of over 100 organizations focused on protecting North Carolina’s environment and public health.
With a personal motto of “just do it,” Heather identifies problems and dreams up actionable solutions. This talent has led to many projects: Heather is the founder of Nonprofit.ist, an online resource that helps pair nonprofits with the right consultants; a co-founder of Beehive Collective, a Raleigh-based giving circle; and the creator of the Individual Donor Benchmark Report.