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Topical Resource Lists

Working with a Consultant or
Technical Assistance Provider:
A Resource List

If you are considering hiring a consultant or a technical assistance provider to assist your nonprofit organization with a particular project or problem, you'll find this resource list a useful tool in gathering information about how to make a selection, how to assess credentials and experience, how to structure fees, and other issues. If you are interested in becoming a consultant to nonprofits, there are materials to assist in your planning, as well. To look at more citations in Catalog of Nonprofit Literature use the subject headings "Consultants" or "Technical assistance."

For directories or listings of consultants browse the Frequently Asked Question, "How do I find a consultant for my nonprofit?"

For Nonprofits

Selecting and working with consultants:

Blumerthal, Barbara. "Improving the Impact of Nonprofit Consulting." Journal for Nonprofit Management, vol 5 (Summer 2001): p. 1-17.
Sometimes consulting work with nonprofits is not successful. Here are some reasons why, and how to approach a consulting project to enhance the potential for a fruitful collaboration.

"Consultants Can Grow Nonprofit Fundraising Programs." Advancing Philanthropy, vol. 9 (July-August 2002): p. 16-19, 42-45.
Discusses common reasons for hiring consultants and suggests qualities to look for in a consultant. Explains how to formalize agreements and monitor progress.

"The Ethics of Consulting Fees." Advancing Philanthropy, vol. 9 (July-August 2002): p. 12-14.
Discusses why consulting fees should be based on a consultant's experience and the nature of the fundraising project, rather than a percentage of funds raised. Sidebar includes excerpts from the Association of Fundraising Professionals' "Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice."

How to Make the Most of Working With Your Marketing and Communications Professionals: A Practical Guide for Organizations Out to Make a Difference. Washington, DC: FoundationWorks, 2004. 16 p.
This manual focuses on creative collaboration for results and how to measure success, translating the real experience of nonprofit professionals into actionable guidelines for selecting and working with communications consultants--both independent practitioners as well as full-service firms. Full-text available.

Iaquinta, Len. "Selection Savvy: Seven Steps to Hiring a Campaign Consultant." Currents (May 1999), p. 36-9.

Kibbe, Barbara; Fred Setterberg; David and Lucile Packard Foundation; and the Foundation Center. Succeeding with Consultants: Self-Assessment for the Changing Nonprofit. New York, NY: Foundation Center, 1992.
Manual provides nonprofit administrators and boards with a step-by-step method for working with consultants to diagnose and address organizational problems. Includes six self-assessment checklists for use in identifying the strengths and weaknesses of an organization's governance, planning, fund development, financial management, public relations and marketing, and quality assurance operations.

Lipman, Harvy. "Experts Offer Tips for Charities on Hiring a Commercial Fundraiser." Chronicle of Philanthropy, vol. 13 (5 April 2001): p. 29.
Lists suggestions from charity officials, fundraisers, and government regulators on hiring a fundraising company. Advises nonprofits to research firms thoroughly, to find out what percentage will be distributed to the nonprofit on the contract, and to have the contract thoroughly reviewed by a lawyer.

Panepento, Peter. "Bad Consultant Confidential." Chronicle of Philanthropy, vol. 19 (19 April 2007): p. 25-7.
Describes potential problems between charities and paid consultants. A bad consulting relationship can occur if charities and consultants are mismatched, do not communicate, or are not realistic about setting goals.

Panepento, Peter. "Clamoring for Consultants." Chronicle of Philanthropy, vol. 16 (18 March 2004): p. 23-4.
Explains that the demand for fundraising, management, and technology consultants is increasing in the nonprofit sector. Notes that consultants can now be hired to serve as interim executive directors.

Panepento, Peter. "How Charities Can Get What They Want When They Hire Fund-Raising Consultants." Chronicle of Philanthropy, vol. 19 (19 April 2007): p. 27.
Presents tips for hiring the right consultant, including writing a request for proposals, consulting a lawyer, and finding a person who is compatible with staff.

Patterson, Michael R. "Outsourcing Planned Giving Taps Into Expert Networks." Nonprofit Times, vol. 18 (1 November 2004): p. 1, 8-9.
Nonprofits without financial resources for in-house planned giving programs may consider seeking advice and support from consultants, foundations, or other agencies. Sidebar lists issues to consider when outsourcing planned giving programs. Full-text available.

Reid, Jim. "Selecting and Working with Fund Raising Consultants" in Hank Russon's Achieving Excellence in Fund Raising, 2nd ed. p. 400-11. Edited by Henry A. Rosso and Associates and Eugene R. Tempel. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass Publishers, 2003.

Sczudlo, Walter. "Motivation: Mission or Money?" Advancing Philanthropy, vol. 10 (September-October 2003): p. 30-32.
The article explains the position of the Association of Fundraising Professionals on the topic of commissions and percentage-based pay for fundraisers.

Temkin, Terrie. "In Search of the White Knight: Finding the Perfect Consultant." Nonprofit World (November-December 1999), p. 37-9.

Tempel, Eugene. "Choosing a Consultant: Make Sure You Get What You Really Need." Nonprofit Times, vol. 13, (November 1999). P. 63-4, 66.

Zola, Irene. "Do You Need a Proposal Writer?" Nonprofit World, vol 17, (January-February 1999), p. 15-7.
How to choose and work with a consulting writer.

For Consultants

Browning, Beverly A. How to Become a Grant Writing Consultant. 2nd ed. Buckeye, AZ: BBA., Inc. 2005. 62 p.
Elucidates what skills and preparation are needed to establish a successful career as an independent proposal writer.

Goldstein, Henry. So You Want to Be a Consultant. Alexandria, VA: Association of Fundraising Professionals, 2006. 38 p. (AFP's Ready Reference Series).
Explains how to manage a consulting business and serve clients.

Lukas, Carol A. Consulting with Nonprofits: A Practitioner's Guide. St. Paul, MN: Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, 1998. xii, 233 p.
Written for the consultant who works with nonprofit and community organizations, the book addresses the need for these services, stages of the process, managing and marketing, various types of consulting, and planning the work. Includes sample worksheets.

McNamara, Carter. Field Guide to Consulting and Organizational Development With Nonprofits: A Collaborative and Systems Approach to Performance, Change and Learning. Minneapolis, MN: Authenticity Consulting LLC, 2005. xxvi, 517 p.
Directed to consultants as well as staff managers, the book explains how to create collaborative approaches to fostering change. Part I provides the basics of establishing and maintaining a consulting business. Part II is an introduction to the nonprofit sector, and Part III discusses performance management and capacity building. Part IV describes how a consultant might work with a nonprofit to diagnose problems, develop plans, and implement actions. Additional sections provide practical tools. With sample forms, bibliographical references and index.
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