What should you do when hiring a non-profit consultant?

write it down2When a non-profit organization wants to secure my assistance as a consultant, it always seems to happen like this:

  • Someone calls or emails me.
  • We sit down (or at the very least talk via phone)
  • They tell me a sad story.
  • They ask for my assistance.
  • I share with them a variety of different services I can provide. I try to engage them in a discussion to narrow the scope of work so I can write a proposal and ultimately a contract.
  • They don’t really do a very good job of narrowing that scope of work because they want everything (and oh yeah . . . there is typically little to no money available to pay for anything).
  • I go back to my office and take a stab at writing a draft proposal for their consideration.
  • They review the proposal and want to make changes to the scope of work.
  • The proposal bounces back and forth a number of times until the client is happy.
  • A contract is produced and signed by both parties.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Many of you have already diagnosed your own problem, and you know what you need from the consultant to help you fix what ails your agency. If this is the case, then I suggest you take a little time to write a request for proposals (RFP).

write it downOK . . . so you don’t have the time to  write a RFP? I get it. I’ve been in your shoes. How about sitting down for 30 minutes and doing this:

  • Write down in a few paragraphs what you see the issue being.
  • Write down what the situation looks like after it has been fixed.
  • Jot down a few bullet points that speak to your thoughts on possible deliverables (e.g. things you want to see produced by the consultant).

Doing these three simple things before sitting down with a consultant will save both you and the consultant time in the beginning.

Here are a few additional blogs and online resources I found online, which I think give some good advice on this subject:

Have you ever hired a consultant? If so, what would you have done differently in the beginning? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Annual Campaign Boot Camp?

As many of you know, I opened my non-profit consulting practice a few weeks ago after Labor Day. It was a “soft open,” which means I am actively pursuing and accepting work, but I’m still frantically developing business infrastructure like my website, menu of services, etc. In fact, I am running out the door in just a few minutes to meet with my marketing friends at Marketplace Media Group.

Part of the “opening the doors” process has been identifying services and trying to price them according to what the marketplace of non-profit organizations allegedly demands. One of the services I plan to offer is something I’m naming “Annual Campaign Boot Camp“.

I got this idea from my personal trainer, Kathy Bruno, who runs a weekly “Fit Camp Challenge” at The Centre, which is my gym in Elgin, IL. In this program, Kathy is a coach and consultant focused on teaching participants best practices around exercise and diet. She is the accountability queen, and I think she enjoys beating the living life out of me every Wednesday.

So, it was a few weeks ago as I slugged around the track I started thinking: “Hey, I wonder if non-profit leaders and resource development professions would participant in a similar program focused around annual campaign planning and implementation? And if so, what would it look like?”

Every since that epiphany, I’ve had this scene from Stripes playing over and over in my head as I trudge around the track. Click this link if you want to enjoy a trip down memory lane with Bill Murray.

However, my challenge is that I need to add some flesh to the bones of this concept, and I would like some help from YOU (which means I am asking all of you shy subscribers to this blog to please take a moment to write a comment or drop me a note via email or social media . . . PLEASE . . . I really do need your help)

Here are some of the random (and incomplete) ideas and questions rolling around my head:

  • Bi-weekly coaching sessions by phone with participants (resource development staff only or campaign chairperson included?)
  • Just coaching or are there some online “trainings” also offered?
  • Is there a benchmarking component to the program for post-campaign comparative purposes?
  • Is there a “group component” to this program? For example, should there be opportunities for all organizations that sign-up to periodically assemble in the same online chatroom (or Tweet-up) to discuss challenges and learn from each other (and collectively share solutions with each other)? If so, how often?

I normally use my blog bully pulpit to talk about your challenges and provide subscribers with my expertise and advice. Today, I’m turning the tables and asking for your expertise and advice. PLEASE take one minute out of your day and help me with some of these questions.

Any comments and feedback would be very much appreciated! What else do you think should be included in this Boot Camp product? What issues do you have with your organization’s annual campaign that you think could be helped with a service like this? What price do you think organizations your size might be willing to pay for this service?

I normally end my blog posts by saying “We can learn from each other” . . . however, today I’m going to emphasize that “I can learn from you.” I look forward to your input and appreciate your time. Thank you!!!

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Owner, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC