Top Tips for Hiring a Nonprofit Consultant

by The Campaign Workshop


How Do I Know Which Nonprofit Consultant Is Right for Me? 

Anyone who has worked in the nonprofit industry for long enough will tell you that it is full of quirks and choosing the nonprofit consultant that is right for you is no easy task. Time and time again, we have nonprofit clients come to TCW after hiring the wrong firm. Every nonprofit is different, and you want to make sure you are hiring a consultant that is best suited to deal with your particular set of needs. 

Here are some tips for how to hire the right nonprofit consultant for you. 

  1. Define your goals before you start hiring. Before you even start considering consultants, you want to make sure you clearly define your organization or project goals and the areas that you need a consultant to help you in. Once you’ve done so, you can spell out your goals and needs in an RFP to send out to potential consultants.
  2. Let your goals drive who you hire. Hire a nonprofit consultant who understands and has actual experience achieving your goals. For example, if you are a labor organization looking for a consultant to help you expand your list and build capacity, you don’t want to hire a consultant whose focus is primarily on fundraising. Make sure you hire a consulting firm that has a breadth of experience in achieving your goals—and can prove it.
  3. Call references before signing that contract. This is huge, and a step that is too often skipped over. Just knowing that a nonprofit consultant has worked with a client similar to your organization isn’t enough. Call references and ask them about their experience with the consultant. Why did they choose this nonprofit consultant over others? Did the consultant keep their promises and meet the organization’s expectations? Were they easy to reach and communicate with? What do they wish the consultant had done differently? Questions like these will help you make sure you’re not disappointed with the nonprofit consultant you choose.
  4. Be wary of head-nodders, buzzwords, and bullsh*tters. The nonprofit industry is full of people who can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. A nonprofit consultant may be saying things that sound nice, but it is important to stay skeptical. Look out for unrealistic promises and be sure to call them out and ask logistical questions when you hear them. 
  5. Watch out for red flags during the “getting to know you” phase. Often, when hiring a consultant, a nonprofit will get too caught up in reading proposals and calling references and forget to take notice of the obvious. Is the firm responding to your questions quickly and thoroughly, or are they answering late and giving you generic answers? Do they follow up with you often, or do you often have to chase them down? If you notice that the consultant is slacking during the hiring process, you can be certain that it will only get worse once they are hired. 

Looking for a nonprofit consultant? Want to make sure you are choosing the best consultant for you? Drop us a line.