Nonprofit Consultants: What Role Should They Play on Your Team?

Have you ever contemplated whether or not you need to bring in a nonprofit consultant to help you achieve your goals? Sometimes it can be hard to determine whether or not you need to hire a person or firm for support. However there are three instances when you should strongly consider it: when you need subject matter expertise; when you could use outside perspective; and when you need a strong facilitator to help you break through the clutter and set clear priorities for you and your team. 

Hire a Nonprofit Consultant When You Need Specific Expertise

First and foremost, your nonprofit consultant should bring expertise that you don’t already have on your team. You hire this person or firm because they have done it before. Which brings up a second point, nonprofit consultants are usually brought on board to assist with specific initiatives, such as rebranding, strategic planning or fundraising and resource development. You bring in a consultant in these areas because they know the process, they know the opportunities, but most importantly, they know the challenges you’re going to face and how to navigate them. 

As an example, if you bring in a nonprofit consultant to assist your organization with strategic planning, they should understand how to involve your various stakeholders in the process because they’ve worked with other similar organizations. Therefore, they already know the importance of bringing diverse perspectives to the table to give everyone a voice, but they’ll also work with you and your leadership team to identify not just who needs to have a voice, but who needs to have a vote. Then, they’ll help you develop a process for involving your staff, board, funders and community members in your plan development, and provide unique solutions to your organization for doing so.

Hire a Nonprofit Consultant When You Need Outside Perspective

One of my favorite sayings is, “you can’t see the label from inside the jar.” Often, nonprofit leaders are so mired in day-to-day work, it can be hard to step back and take a big picture look at your organization’s overall strategy. There’s significant value in bringing in a fresh set of eyes who can give your nonprofit outside perspective. 

Nonprofit leaders are so mired in day-to-day work, it can be hard to step back and look at your organization's overall strategy. There's value in bringing in a fresh set of eyes who can give your nonprofit outside perspective. Click To Tweet

Really good nonprofit consultants can come in and help you take an inventory of where you are today, and work with you to paint a picture of where you want to go in the future. The best nonprofit consultants can then help you develop an action plan for bringing this vision to life.

Hire a Nonprofit Consultant When You Need a Great Facilitator

Finally, great nonprofit consultants have a set of tools in their toolkit. But tools themselves are not enough, they need to be able to apply them in ways that help your nonprofit reach your desired outcomes, and this takes artful facilitation. 

So when it comes to reimagining your organization’s vision or mission, as an example, there’s a set of creative exercises you can go through to think about the world you want to create and what your organization will do each day to build toward that ideal. A nonprofit consultant can take your organization through these exercises, while also facilitating deeper discussions that help you draw out key insights and identify thought patterns from folks across your organization. The outcomes of these conversations are what will assist you in developing the strongest statements possible.

If you’re considering hiring a nonprofit consultant for your organization, work internally to determine where you need outside assistance and what role you want them to play. Then, focus on identifying individuals and organizations that have worked with nonprofits like yours before and who can bring valuable expertise to your organization.


The Nonprofit Health Assessment is a simple 20-question survey that will help you get a sense of your nonprofit’s overall health by analyzing all the key elements of your organization. You’ll learn where your nonprofit is optimized for maximum impact, and where you still have work to do. This assessment will also help you get a sense of where you should start when it comes to implementing the Nonprofit Impact System™, whether on your own or with our help.