This year at Funding for Good, we’ve been having some ah-ha moments when it comes to contracts. Which seems like a good time to share some insights. We work with the folks in our 60-Day Boot Camp on this kind of stuff, but we wanted to share the basics about contract considerations for consultants here as well.
At Funding for Good, we have several contract templates that we use for various services like Strategic Planning, One-Year Strategic Planning Reviews, Development Consulting, Grant Writing, Template Creation, etc. But recently we have been doing more and more work in other areas, where we don’t have templates already created. This has caused us to think through what needs to be in each type of contract. There are some elements that seem to show up in every contract, and some that we are adding (lessons learned the hard way) to future contracts after some interesting experiences. Here are some of the areas you will want to consider as you craft your contracts for client work, whether it is hourly or project-based.
Key Contract Considerations for Consultants
- Start by identifying who is entering into the contract (name of companies/organizations).
- Be sure to identify who you/your company will be working with specifically. You can use the title of the position in case there is turnover, but leaving this out will leave you open to working with everyone, the board, etc. It can be a fiasco. You can also choose to include a second point-of-contact who will be included on all correspondence, but still, ensure there is only one designated point-of-contact/communication for direct work.
- Payment schedule details should be included. Set fees and how billing will occur and when payments are expected. This can include deposits, timeframes, dates, payment methods, etc.
- Include clauses for how each party can end the contract.
- Depending on the nature of the work, an ‘Expected Timeline’ can be a great addition. This should include the benchmarks of the work and expected completion dates. This allows for realistic expectations of work load.
- Be sure to outline any work items that your company does NOT provide. This is especially important when the work may often be ‘assumed’ to be included. Example 1: FFG is not responsible for the ‘submission’ of any grant proposal. Submission will occur by [insert organization name]. Example 2: FFG does not provide grant management and/or reporting services. FFG will support the work to identify how, when and what to evaluate for each proposal based on reporting needs, but those tasks will be performed/completed by ‘insert org name’.
- Be sure to write your services in a way that limits your commitment to specific time frames or work. Example: The [insert position title] will engage in bi-weekly coaching calls up to 1-hour as needed. When you say ‘up to 1-hour,’ it could be 30 minutes. It also says ‘as needed’. This means it is not required.
- Outline any additional services that may be ‘assumed’ in the contract, but are not, and state that they can be added on at a later date. Example: Federal grant writing services are not included in this contract, but can be added at an additional cost and with a new contract.
- Include the parameters that signal completion of the work product. Without specific parameters, the contract can just keep going on and on. This can be a simple statement like: FFG shall have fulfilled its obligations when any one of the following occurs: a) FFG accomplishes the activities described in the above work statement, including delivery of [insert product] listed in the section entitled ‘Standard Services;’ or b) Client accepts submitted work products without unreasonable objections. No response from the Client within 5 business days of receipt of deliverables by FFG is deemed acceptance.