Ten Reasons why Nonprofits Want to Hire You
Are you an interesting person and fun to be with? Of course! But that only gets a consultant so far. You need to know why your client wants you. It might just boil down to one of these ten reasons:
- Transfer knowledge. Many times, nonprofits are forced to depend on semiskilled labor to perform functions that in the for-profit world would be given to a higher paid expert. These people are either inexperienced, serve once served as volunteers to the organization, or serve functions in business that are similar to what they are being asked to do in a nonprofit, but not the same. Recognizing this, nonprofits will ask consultants to come in and teach the skills necessary to bring their staff up to speed in the expertise they require.
- Evaluate. More nonprofits are being asked by funders and government agencies to objectively evaluate their effectiveness in mission programs or internal systems. Your developing an expertise in being able to quantify what the nonprofit up to that point considered unquantifiable will make you a viable resource.
- Pinpoint an issue. Given the financial restraints that most nonprofits face, it’s easy to have a minor problem manifests itself in big ways. Being a troubleshooter for nonprofit can be a very valuable service in delivering their mission.
- Episodic expertise. It’s incredibly tough for nonprofits to have every expert they require for every circumstance they encounter. Being able to bring you in “on call” can be an extremely valuable service, whether that’s in human resources, accounting, fundraising events or other once in done kind of activities.
- Ongoing expertise. For some nonprofits, it’s a better business model to hire consultants who are semi permanent staff. For example, if they’re entering into a campaign that will only last two or three years, they might consider bringing in a campaign manager over that time, rather than hiring a full-time staff member that they might let go after the campaign is complete.
- Interim leadership. To their credit, many nonprofits recognize that having a thoughtful hiring process for a permanent position takes time. They may not have the expertise in-house to take over a job on a short-term basis, or they made have somebody in house who is qualified but is a candidate for the position. It’s often better to hire an interim leader in a key position who can lend expertise and put systems in place for long-term betterment of the organization, then to hire quickly and regret the decision quickly.
- As a “hatchet man.” Unfortunately, people just don’t like to do the hard tasks that can cause bad interpersonal relationships. Nonprofits are no different. Bringing you into objectively assess the situation and recommend appropriate cuts or changes insulates the staff that survives from long-term repercussions.
- Spark things up. It’s easy to burn out very quickly when working with a nonprofit. A great function of the consultant is to offer new ways to look at things, new processes and new enthusiasm to a mission.
- Pilot a new program. Introducing a new mission related program to a nonprofit is risky. Hiring you to get it started, work through some of the initial problems and train staff to keep it going reduces the risk and the potential for staff frustration.
- Make contacts in the community. You may have valuable connections in the field that the nonprofit can benefit from, whether those are with government agencies, donors and potential donors or other consultants such as yourself. Many nonprofits will hire somebody to help them connect with resources that are out of their network.
Yes, smile. Yes, get engaged with their mission. But in the end, know why you’re there.