Most organizations need to retain a consultant from time to time to help either board members or staff members with their respective duties. Even if board members could do the task as well, the politics of some situations, or the lack of time to focus on the task, might suggest the need for one or more consultants. To avoid additional conflicts of interest, use the consultant as an outside hired expert; don’t elect him or her to serve on the board if you plan to use his or her services on a contractual basis.
Many lawyers, accountants, and other types of consultants specialize in the nonprofit sector. They bring specialized skill, as well as experience and a network of contacts gained from working with other nonprofits. Perhaps most important, they are objective, outside observers, with no vested interests in your organization. That enables them to provide frank feedback and a fresh perspective on the situation. The information and ideas they offer can help your organization long after the consulting period has ended.
Consider retaining an outside consultant to assist the board with
A search for a new chief executive
A comprehensive fundraising program or capital campaign
Monitoring of trends or legislation that could have an effect on future strategies
Preventive legal services, legal audits, and legal defense
Accounting systems, financial audits, and investment strategies
SUQQESTED ACTION STEPS
1. Board members, consider whether the full board could benefit from outside counsel. Think in terms of the value received in light of your mission and total budget.
2. Chief executive, look into sharing a consultant (and the accompanying expenses) with another nonprofit organization.
- How should we respond to an organizational emergency or controversy?
- Should our charitable organization engage in lobbying?
- How can we expand the organizations scope to an international level?
- When should we consider a merger or acquisition?
- When should we enter into strategic alliances with other organizations?
- How do we ensure that the organization thrives after the founders depart?
- What is the typical lifecycle for a nonprofit organization?
- How do we find a new chief executive?
- What are the legal duties of a board member?
- What characteristics should we look for in a new chief executive?
- How can we facilitate the end of a chief executives employment?
- How can the senior staff contribute to board effectiveness?
- What is the boards role in relation to the staff?
- What is the chief executives role in improving the board?
- How do we set fair compensation for the chief executive and the staff?
- How should we evaluate the chief executive?
- Should board members be hired as staff members?
- Should the chief executive have a vote on the board?
- What is the boards involvement in staff selection and management?
- What is the boards role in fundraising?