It’s a tale as old as time. Your organization is operating at full capacity and you know that you could maximize your impact if only you could grow your team. In order to grow your team and hire great talent, you need more funding. To get more funding, you need time to develop funding strategies, capture data, conduct strategic planning, and build and nurture relationships with funders. Do you have the time and resources required to do this? No! That’s why you need to grow your team.
In this scenario, many nonprofit leaders will lean on volunteers, board members, and overworked staff to fill in the capacity gaps. They will also attempt to add more tasks to their own never-ending to-do lists. These makeshift solutions do not provide sustainable support.
So what’s a leader to do? Consider these four options that can provide increased capacity for 6 weeks to 6 months at a time for little-to-no financial investment.
- Corporate pro bono programs
- The top consulting firms in the world often will provide pro bono consulting opportunities for local nonprofits that serve in spaces that align with their corporate citizenship priorities. For example, Bain & Company has a “10-year commitment to invest $1 billion in pro bono consulting work”. If you are in a major city, there is likely a local office for firms like Bain, Accenture, Deloitte, McKinsey, EY, and others. Reach out to their Corporate Citizenship team to learn more about their pro bono opportunities. Our founder took advantage of one of these opportunities during her time as a strategy consulting manager and it was life changing – it birthed the desire to start Horizon Advisory Group.
- Local university student consulting and internship programs:
- Many universities often provide their business undergraduate and graduate students with a range of consulting opportunities for local nonprofit organizations. There’s a generally team of 3-6 students that are matched with an organization and 1-2 faculty sponsors. For example, the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan provides a half-semester long opportunity called Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP), where they match a team of students based on experience and interest with a for- or non-profit organization based anywhere in the world. Many schools have community consulting clubs that are student-led, faculty-sponsored that work with local nonprofit organizations, e.g. Northwestern Unversity Kellogg School of Management’s Impact Consulting Group.
- There are also nonprofit board fellow opportunities at universities across the US in partnership with Net Impact that provide 6-12 month non-voting board appointments for students who support a strategic project with the organization’s executive director.
- Local universities are always looking for internship opportunities for their students. This option allows students to gain valuable work experience and provides organizations with an extra set of hands for daily tasks & short-term projects. Students should be compensated financially and/or with academic credit. No unpaid internships!
- On demand, skilled probono consultant matchmaking organizations:
- Taproot+ (free for nonprofits) connects nonprofit organizations with skilled professional volunteers. Organizations can request a 1 hour strategy call or a full length consulting project with light project management support from Taproot. Check out their post providing Ideas for Impactful Consultations to get a better understanding of the type of support their volunteers can provide. Also, sign up for their mailing list or bookmark the Taproot Foundation’s events page to learn about upcoming webinar and speed consulting events (there’s quite a few on the calendar through the end of 2021). We’ve participated as HR consultants and it’s been a mutually rewarding experience for all in attendance.
- Catchafire (nominal monthly fee), similar to Taproot+, also matches nonprofit organizations with skilled probono consultants. Organizations can request a 1 hour strategy call or a full length consulting project with light project management support from Catchafire. Non-profits are required to make a monthly financial investment under $200 to confirm their commitment to the Catchafire partnership and the consultant’s time — in return for a significant return on investment that saves time money and resources in finding talent who have potential to become long-term advocates. Payment is “never more than 5% of what the professional services would cost on the open market” (Medium) and provides access to an unlimited number of projects.
- ReServe (nominal hourly fee) prioritizes matching organizations with seasoned, skilled professionals 50+ who are expereinced and eager to fill short term gaps in capacity. ReServists can be hired at a modest, hourly stipend paid by the hiring nonprofit organization and supplemented by ReServe.
- On demand, online marketplace for freelance services
- Upwork and Fiverr are two of the most popular sites to find low cost, freelance talent. Unlike the matchmaking opportunities listed above, using these services requires your organization to source your own freelancers. It’s best to use these platforms for discrete projects such as graphic design, presentation creation, or bookkeeping. You have a choice of freelancers from each corner of the globe so you should be able to find great talent with ease.
We recommend considering one or more of these options to help fill short-term gaps. These opportunities have the greatest return on investment when they set the stage for long-term capacity building. Schedule a call with us if you have questions about which option would be best for you.