Let’s play a little game of truth or dare. We’ll start-TRUTH: we hate it when you hire other nonprofit consultants instead of us to do the job, we really do. Because we know that what’s hiding behind the many pretty faces is a reality that many organizations aren’t aware of: not all consultants are created equal.
And we know you secretly agree. In fact, it’s possible that you might already have a slight inclination that something is off about the consultant you’ve been working with. You’re probably even ready to tear apart the signed contract and find someone else different (ahem, us). So now all you need are plausible reasons to break free. WE DARE YOU to fire your consultant after reading this.
- Great Academic Credentials, But No Field Experience.
Steer clear from a consultant who looks good on paper, but doesn’t have practical experience, especially when your project is focused on fundraising and strategic planning. Without field time, there’s little credibility in ensuring that any new strategies offered will actually, you know, work.
Look for: Someone who has served your organization’s population, has critical thinking abilities and enough past experiences to understand how to apply what has worked in the past with new ideas on how to improve them for your project.
- An Employee In Consultant Clothing.
They don’t own a business license, much less a company or insurance. This isn’t a consultant as much as someone who needs a job.
Look for: A quick Google search and reaching out to LinkedIn connections individually to solicit raw feedback.
- Happily Offers Cheap Labor
Although it may be on first instinct for a Board to be “penny wise” when engaging consultants, it’s important to not be “dollar foolish” or approach the project with dispassionate vetting. In the case of hiring consultants, think “long-term investment” and not “warm-pulse required”.
Look for: A consultant who knows their value won’t immediately lower their prices to match a competitor’s bid, but will be open to discuss what it will take to secure a project and alleviate any insecurities.
- Beats Around The Bush To Deliver Bad News
No one likes being the bearer of bad news, but there’s nothing worse than a consultant who lacks boldness, especially when asked to discuss sensitive issues like firing an employee. You’re paying for decisiveness, expect it.
Look for: A sense of confidence in having both easy and hard conversations with all types of people.
- Only Applies One Solution Per Problem
Changes happen every second. Roadblocks can and will emerge without notice and unfortunately, consultants are not fortunetellers. One solution may not solve a problem in its entirety, or may only work for a certain amount of time.
Look for: Willingness to consider an array of opportunities to uncover the best possible outcome for your organization. A successful consultant not only can foresee multiple solutions, but are always ready to think on their feet when challenged to improvise.
- Offers More Services Than They Can Count
Some consultants (we won’t say names) like to pretend that they offer a particular service, in addition to what they’re experts at, just to give themselves a competitive edge. When it comes down to the dirty work, you might end up finding that their approaches are inadequate at best and don’t do more than playing by the book.
Look for: Someone who understands what they’re confident in delivering, is aware of their own capacity and can acknowledge the services they don’t offer due to lack of expertise.
- Doesn’t Insist On Probing
If your consultant doesn’t ask you a lot of questions on the outset, good luck because you’ll be limited to rare phone conversations and little email follow up. They might be assuming what things are and may hesitate to ask questions.
Look for: A really good listener who will consistently ask questions until they understand the scope of work fully and continue to dig as deep as they possibly can to find the information they need.