The choice of consultant that you make can be very important, with many implications for your organization.  You may be asking for help with strategic planning, or fund development, or some other type of help.  In almost every case, the impact will be felt for years to come.  So take a little time to think carefully about the choice you are making.

To assist with your choice, Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee offers the following list of things to think about:

  • Talk with more than one consultant.  
    A consultant may look very good to you in this directory, but talking with more than one consultant can help you learn a little more about the project you are embarking on.  Each consultant has different perspectives and approaches.  Talk the project through with them and see what you can learn, remaining open to changing the scope of the project based on what they say.
    On the other hand, we request that you do not make a consultant draft a proposal if you are certain that you will not select them.  A good proposal can take a number of hours to write, and so would be inconsiderate of the consultant’s time if you have already decided.


  • Get to know your consultant before you select them.
    You are going to spend time with whichever consultant you choose, so make sure you are going to be able to get along with them.  Try to ensure there is a good match of personalities, and especially of core values.


  • Look at experience.
    Be careful of anyone who promises you the sun, the moon, and the stars.  Consultants’ expertise is always strongest in just a few areas.  Ask the consultant to tell you about experience they have doing the work you are looking for.  
    Also ask if you can contact a reference or two that can vouch for the consultant.


  • Explore your world with the consultant.
    A consultant may be experienced in a certain type of project, but how much do they know about the world you move in?  If you are a theatre company, do they know about performing arts in your community?  If you do neighborhood development, does the consultant know the political landscape that affects your work?  Consider whether this knowledge will help to bridge more quickly into a productive working relationship.
    On the other hand, you may want a consultant who comes from a different perspective, to be able to help you think outside your world.  


  • Review a proposal carefully
    This may seem like an obvious thing, but take the time to read through a proposal the consultant submits.  Make sure you are clear about the scope of the work, and the approach the consultant will take.  Carefully review the expectations of you and your organization so you know what you are responsible for and what the consultant will take on.
    Ask questions.  If anything is unclear or seems different than what you had originally discussed, talk to the consultant and get clarification.


  • Get a written contract
    Don't start work with a consultant until you have signed a contract with them.  This can contain elements such as the scope of work that you have agreed to, the amount of money the project will cost, who is responsible for any additional costs such as meeting space and refreshments during a meeting.  You should also see in the contract what are the possibilities of ending the project if something is not working, and what the financial implications of that would be.  Read it carefully and have your legal counsel look at it, if you like.

  • Take your time.
    If you have the chance, take some time to determine what you really need help with.  For example, you may believe that you need help with designing a fund development campaign, but in fact you need a strategic plan first so you have something to talk to your donors about.  This is not always possible, because you may be in crisis, but whenever possible a little triage can go a long way towards making sure you are working on the right stuff.


  • Talk to us or someone else
    Don't be embarrassed to admit that you need some advice or guidance.  Call someone who knows you and the work you are asking for help with.  


  • Tell us how it went.
    Although the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee does not vouch for any of the consultants listed in this directory, offering nonprofits and consultant a good experience is very important to us.  So, we would be very interested in hearing from you about how your experience of the website and your experience with your consultant goes. All we can offer about these consultants is that they have signed on to our standards of practice.  They have also agreed that if they are in breach of that code, we can remove them from the directory.  We will only know to do that if you let us know, so please take some time to review your experience with your consultant.  Tell us the good things, too so we will know that they are someone we can recommend to others.

Find a Consultant

Select a specific Practice Area to find a consultant or browse the full directory.

Our members have agreed to our Standards of Practice. This directory is for professional reference only and not to be considered an endorsement or recommendation to the general public. Use of this directory is free of charge for nonprofit organizations. Consultants will be charged a fee to register and be included in the directory.

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