Our Research

State of Nonprofit Consulting

To inform ImpactRising, we first did a scan of the available research on nonprofit consulting. Here’s what we found. We then surveyed nonprofits nationwide to understand:

  • When and why they hire consultants
  • How they find and work with them
  • What works well, and what could be improved

In particular, how effective are all of these processes? We blogged about the results here, and held a small focus group with nonprofit leaders. You can see the Research Highlights with Survey Summary here.

Questions the survey uncovered:

  • If as leaders we keep returning to our personal networks to find consultants, how will we find consultants who are diverse from us by age, background, and expertise? Are we stuck in like hiring like? What are the consequences?
  • Do the power dynamics between consultants and executives prevent nonprofit leaders from giving necessary feedback and ensuring course corrections throughout important consulting engagements?
  • What stops us from giving candid references on the consultants we’ve used. Are we just being polite? Strategic in some way? What are the consequences?

Using these results as our guide, we hosted a design workshop with a diverse group of nonprofit ED’s, funders, and consultants to make meaning of these results and propose solutions to some of the problems uncovered.

Results from this design workshop gave birth to ImpactRising.org.

You can read more about our journey and initial thinking here.

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