Nonprofit Consulting

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December 23, 2012 by youssoufyoula

By Youssouf Youla, MSc in Management Consulting 3 student

Consultants, when asked for the main reason they decided to work in Management Consulting, usually claim that they like helping people and adding value. This answer goes against the perception that people have of them as individuals who charge high fees to state the obvious, who have poor ethical standards or deliver false promises. It would really help the image of the practice if more candidates were to apply for jobs in Nonprofit Consulting, which is really about helping people.

What is Nonprofit Consulting? It is the practice of helping nonprofit organizations improve their performance and face their challenges. They could be with human resources, operations, strategy, marketing or the writing of grant proposals. Nonprofit encompasses educational, governmental or humanitarian organizations. As a consultant you could help an organization such as the Red Cross by designing a fund-raising plan or helping it increase its brand awareness. Consulting in Nonprofits is not that different from consulting in general. You perform almost the same type of work, but the major difference I believe is the fact that you deal with institutions that are working towards improving the human condition by fighting inequalities.

There are several boutique firms focusing on nonprofit organizations, where employees in general earn less money than in other consulting practices but the rewards and satisfaction of being part of a positive change could be more gratifying. On the other hand you also have the big firms Bain, McKinsey or BCG offering positions in nonprofit consulting with usually very competitive salaries. The sector is unfortunately growing as the human condition is worsening across the globe. Serge Abi Haidar raises in his article Why do we do the things we do? important questions about the motives behind our decisions. Do we want to go for the money? Do we really want to help people? Do we want both? If we really want to help people consultancy in nonprofit is very good option.

Management consulting candidates who have not yet found an area of expertise could consider working in a sector that is growing but not very popular. They will find a career in a field that is gratifying. Firms in Nonprofit Consulting from Columbia University provides a list, not exhaustive, of US firms that specialize in Nonprofits.

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One thought on “Nonprofit Consulting

  1. Youssouf, you raise some very good questions about whether the motivation for consultants should be money or the fulfillment that comes from helping people. And is there a way of reconciling the two; because the time, effort and expertise that a consultant puts into a project does carry a cost and this will need to be compensated in order for the consultant to be able to continue to provide his/her services.

    I think that given the current global trends, these questions will continue to be central to this debate. The financial crisis taught us (hopefully) that a mere short-sighted focus on profits is detrimental to the collective whole. When you add to this the challenges of an increasing world population together with depleting resources, it is going to be paramount for us to consider ways in which to create ‘win-win’ situations for all stakeholders (from the private enterprise world, to government and finally to the individuals in different societies).

    As consultants, it is our aim to help our clients to operate more efficiently and to achieve tangible ‘wins’. Going forward, this is going to entail creating ‘Shared Value’ which is a concept that Michael Porter is currently advancing. Creating Shared Value means that all entities-governments, private enterprise, multi-nationals, and non-governmental organizations- will need to start working together in order to identify new ways of solving traditional problems such as: poverty reduction, global warming, food security, as well as declining economic growth and the challenges that these present. This means that in order for consultants to continue to add value in this changing world, they will need to be able to facilitate this collaborative problem-solving by enabling the client (whether this is on non-profit, for-profit or even government assignments) to see the bigger picture and how he fits into this greater whole.

    (For more information on Creating Shared Value please check out this website http://www.fsg.org/OurApproach/SharedValue.aspx )

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