On Second Thought: Why Hire a Consultant?

By: David Goettler, CEO

The fundraising profession has grown tremendously since its inception. Today, most organizations employ experienced and capable fundraisers on staff. Increasingly administration executives and governing boards may wonder why they would need to hire a consultant at all — isn’t that the role of the executive director and the chief development officer?

When an organization is considering its future strategy, looking to conduct careful strategic planning or organizing the early phases of a capital campaign, they are in fact working to change the status quo. Something somewhere has created a desire or need to change or improve the future trajectory of the organization. It is at this time that
considering an outside consultant may be an excellent investment.

Hiring a consultant will typically require the consensus of management and governance on the clear purpose and objectives of the engagement, and demonstrate the organization’s commitment to the planning process and on improving future results.

The outside consultant will bring an impartial perspective into your planning process. It is naturally difficult for an organization’s leadership to see their organization objectively, to identify both the internal and external environmental factors that truly impact the fulfillment of the organization’s mission and vision. A good consultant will ask the difficult questions, challenge the status quo and entrenched biases, and accelerate critical self-evaluation and identification of organizational strengths and capabilities which are vital to a successful strategic planning process.

Internal and external stakeholders will often share their unvarnished opinions with a third-party consultant, opinions and concerns that they are reluctant or unable to express in their normal interactions with the organization. The consultant is able to diffuse emotion and office politics, balance opinionated leaders and establish agreement on the core issues impacting an organization’s improvement and greater community impact.

Is a hiring a consultant always a good idea? No, not if you are happy with the status quo, or simply unwilling to change.

An outside consultant, enabled by a clear purpose and approved by the board, is not burdened with a full workload of recurring duties. They will manage the engagement process effectively and within an establish time line. Hiring a consultant for your next strategic planning process can be an excellent investment to improve your organization.

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For more on Strategic Leadership, HAdvancing the Organization from Planning to Reality, access  Goettler Series Volume 5