In my previous post, Nonprofit Consulting Essentials: What Grant Consultants Need to Know as They Build Their Businesses, I told you a little about Penelope Cagney’s book: Nonprofit Consulting Essentials: What Nonprofits and Consultants Need to Know and I mentioned that there was more she could teach us about Governance Consulting, Management & Organizational Consulting, and International Consulting. In this post, I address some important concepts related to the first two.
To recap a bit…
As grant consultants we have many options for expanding our businesses based on our personal strengths and interests. Though some of us may choose to stay narrowly focused in areas related to fundraising, others – perhaps frustrated with some of the internal issues that influence the success of grant proposals – might decide to branch out by developing nonprofit boards (governance consulting) and helping them set the strategic direction of the organization (management consulting). If you are a grant consultant with a penchant for working with startups – like I am – these types of consulting are a perfect extension of your practice. After all, they’re often needed before a startup organization is ready to begin a long-term grant seeking effort.
Ms. Cagney highlights varied approaches to governance and management consulting. She says, “governance consultants tend to fall into one of two camps: traditional (the models we have are solid; we just need to make them work better) and progressive (the models we have are insufficient or even downright ineffective; we need to find better ones.”
Most nonprofits follow the traditional model, which includes a committee structure based on organizational activity (programs, fundraising, finance, HR) and other board concerns (long-range planning, nominating). It may consist of a combination of standing and ad hoc committees. In addition, a nonprofit may have an auxiliary or advisory board, which plays a lesser role in organizational decision making. Within this model of governance, consultants can help define an ideal committee structure and the roles and responsibilities for each group.
Those who find too many flaws in the traditional model may turn to the Policy Governance Model developed by John Carver, which limits the role of board members to creating broad, strategic goals for an organization and discourages their involvement in organizational management issues such as fundraising, budgeting, and staffing. Others may prefer the Community-Engagement Governance Model developed by Judy Freiwirth, with input from the Alliance for Nonprofit Management’s Governance Affinity Group. Freiwirth says, “This framework provides a system-wide, customized approach in which governance responsibility is shared … among the key stakeholders of an organization – that is, its constituents, community, staff, and board.”
Management & Organizational Consulting
Of course, any approach to board development must be consistent with the management mindset of an organization. Again, Ms. Cagney points out two views – the first being that an organization works like a machine with individual parts that can be “fixed” and the second being that an organization is more holistic, where change in any one part of the system influences all other parts of the system. The first view is more traditional. The latter view in linked with a philosophy called organizational development (OD).
According to Ms. Cagney, the traditional approach emerged from the “top-down” management model of the church and military, where emphasis is placed on implementation, control, and careful evaluation. The organizational development approach emerged from the field of behavioral science, which has a greater emphasis on growth and learning.
Personally, I identify more with the organizational development approach.
How about you?
Management Consulting Competency Framework
Regardless of the approach you take to governance and management/ organizational consulting, if you choose to include these types of consulting in your practice, you’ll benefit from a review of the Management Consulting Competency Framework outlined by the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC). It forms the basis for the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) qualification and includes three key components: market knowledge and capability (technical discipline, sector specialization), consulting competencies (business understanding and external awareness, managing client relationships, consulting process, practice management), consulting skills and behaviors (project management, analytical and proactive thinking, emotional intelligence, effective communication, professionalism and ethics).
The Institute of Management Consultants defines management consulting as, “the providing to management of objective advice and assistance relating to the strategy, structure, management, and operations of an organization in pursuit of its long-term purposes and objectives.”
Does that sound like something you do? I think it’s already (an unacknowledged) part of every grant writer’s job description!
Nonprofit Consulting Essentials: What Nonprofits and Consultants Need to Know is available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders.