When 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).
OK . . . 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:
- Philanthropy News Digest: “What to do when hiring a consultant“
- Philanthropy News Digest: “Lessons Learned: Hiring Consultants“
- Grand Victoria Foundation: “The Insider’s Guide to Outside Advice“
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!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC