Here at Funding for Good, we spend a lot of time working with nonprofit organizations and leaders to create powerful strategic plans that help them achieve their goals faster. We also work with and support nonprofit consultants as they grow their work with nonprofit organizations.
Working with both of these groups, we’ve started to notice some incredible parallels.
Many of the benefits of strategic planning for nonprofit organizations are the same benefits nonprofit consultants can find through small business planning.
But first, nonprofit leaders and consultants alike often need a mindset shift. We frequently hear both nonprofit staff and nonprofit consultants talk about their work primarily in terms of mission and service.
I want to help accomplish good in the world.
I’m committed to doing work that adds value to my community.
I want to support change on issues that I’m passionate about.
But nonprofits are actually businesses. And so are the consultants that help them. By investing in creating stronger business strategies for all of us, we’ll ultimately be able to create more good in the world together.
What is Nonprofit Consulting?
With layoffs at large corporations and smaller businesses beginning to mount, more and more people are thinking about making the switch to consulting or entrepreneurship. Especially in times of economic turmoil, the idea of taking your financial destiny in your own hands can be incredibly compelling. Indeed, since the start of the pandemic, entrepreneurship has seen a significant increase.
For those of us who’ve spent our careers in nonprofits, becoming consultants to nonprofits can be a natural next step. It’s a way to share the hard-earned skills and wisdom we’ve gained working in and leading nonprofit organizations—while helping even more organizations in the long run.
Nonprofit consulting can include services such as:
- Executive coaching
- Leadership training
- Strategic planning
- Meeting and retreat facilitation
- Fundraising strategy and support
- Board development
- Event planning
- Executive searches
- Capital campaigns
- IT services
The key is finding your niche. Which is where small business planning comes in.
Benefits of Small Business Planning for Nonprofit Consultants
Whether you’re just getting started as a nonprofit consultant, or have been consulting with nonprofits for years, there is never a wrong time to strengthen your small business planning.
As with nonprofit strategic planning, we recommend bringing in outside support. As a nonprofit consultant, you’ll want to find someone who understands both the nonprofit sector and the world of consulting, and who has a proven track record of working with small businesses.
If you find the right match, your business coach or mentor will be worth every penny. They will help you to:
- Get clear on your business goals: If you don’t know your goals, how can you possibly reach them? Small business planning pushes you to articulate clear and measurable objectives. You’ll develop a timeline on which you’ll achieve your stated goals, and the metrics you’ll use to evaluate success. For example, this could include the amount of income you want to earn and the number and type of clients you want to secure. The trick is that it’s customized to your personal strengths and ambitions.
- Reach your goals faster: We often write about how creating a written strategic plan can double your organization’s chance of success. Don’t you want your nonprofit consulting business to have this same boost?
- Learn from others’ mistakes: Running a business requires a thick skin. You’ll try things and fail at things. And then, if you’re doing it right, you’ll learn from those failures. But what if you could learn from other people’s mistakes instead of making them yourself? That’s one of the key benefits of finding someone to support your small business planning process. Whether you call them a mentor, a coach, or a consultant, by investing in outside expertise you’ll be able to skip over some of the worst mistakes and get to those wins faster.
Becoming a Nonprofit Consultant
As with any business endeavor, becoming a nonprofit consultant isn’t easy. It requires that same passion you’d bring to a salaried role working in nonprofit organizations. Yet it also demands that you approach the work with a business mindset.
We’ve said before that every nonprofit needs a strategic plan now. And the same goes for nonprofit consultants: it’s never too soon or too late to create your small business plan.