8 Nonprofit Consulting Firms in 2024

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Published:

July 3, 2023

Last Updated:

January 11, 2024

Running a nonprofit organization is a LOT of work—you often have to wear many different hats, and you regularly get pulled in many different directions.

On occasion, you might find that you don’t have the time, capacity, or expertise to handle everything on your own. And that’s okay! Nonprofit consulting firms exist for this exact reason.

In this article, we will share with you how nonprofit consulting firms work, what they can do to help you, and which are the best ones in the industry.

Let’s dive in.

What Are Nonprofit Consulting Firms?

Consulting

Let’s start with the basics: what is a consultant?

A consultant is an experienced professional with in-depth knowledge of a particular subject matter who works with “clients” that pay the consultant for their services.

There are consultants in many different fields, including education, law, health care, public relations, finance, and business.

There are even nonprofit consultants!

A nonprofit consulting firm is an organization that helps nonprofits achieve their goals and operate with efficiency. The firm is comprised of a team of specialists (consultants) who have extensive experience in the nonprofit sector.

These consultants can help you with specific operational areas, such as fundraising and grant writing, marketing, capacity building, and even strategic planning.

Typically, when a nonprofit engages with a consulting firm, there will be a signed agreement between the two parties that outlines the scope of work and each party’s responsibilities.

This agreement will look different depending on your specific needs, but it is standard practice to outline the work and expectations in a contract or Memorandum of Understanding. This document will also outline the fees that the consulting firm will charge for their services as well as a payment schedule.

Whatever your organization’s need is, there’s a nonprofit consulting firm out there that can help you!

Throughout the rest of this article, we’re going to share with you some of the benefits of working with a nonprofit consulting firm, and we’re going to introduce you to some of the top firms in the industry. Keep reading!

Benefits of Working With a Nonprofit Consulting Firm

Benefits

Running a nonprofit is a big job.

If you are a nonprofit leader, it is highly likely that you’ve often had to try to fill gaps in your organization that you are not qualified to fill.

You might be a skilled and experienced fundraiser, but that doesn’t mean you have the background needed to also be a marketing manager or even a director of human resources.

Working with a nonprofit consulting firm takes the pressure off of you so that you don’t have to try to do everything.

When you outsource a function to a nonprofit consultant, they will leverage their years of expertise and hands-on experience to support your organization effectively and efficiently. They’ll fill whatever gap you have identified and free up your time, energy, and resources to focus on other things.

A nonprofit consulting firm can bring the power of knowledge, hands-on experience, and resources to your organization to help you solve problems, maximize opportunities, or fill in gaps.

Let’s talk about a few different scenarios you could find yourself in as a nonprofit leader and how a consulting firm might help you in each.

Capacity Building

Here’s a scenario: Your organization is interested in growing and expanding its programs. To do this, you also need to grow your fundraising efforts. However, you are limited in terms of staff capacity and expertise, and you don’t know where to begin. Now what?

In this situation, a nonprofit fundraising consultant could help you in a huge way.

This type of consultant could provide you with an objective assessment of your existing fundraising program, present their findings to your leadership team and Board of Directors, and provide customized recommendations for how you can scale up and grow your capacity for raising funds.

Ultimately, you’ll be left with a clear plan that will take you forward to a more robust fundraising program which will support your organization's growth in a sustainable way.

Sounds incredible, right? Let’s look at another scenario.

Filling Staffing Gaps

Scenario number two: Your Director of Human Resources suddenly resigns during a very busy time of year. Your organization has no other internal staff with the skills, knowledge, or capacity to oversee hiring and recruitment. Yikes!

An HR-focused nonprofit consulting firm could help you fill this unexpected staffing gap.

These firms often have a diverse array of human resources offerings and could potentially support you with hiring and recruiting, executive search, brokering and negotiating benefits, employee relations, and even developing internal policies and procedures.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have an unexpected gap in your staffing, and you aren’t sure how to fill it, we definitely recommend looking into hiring a nonprofit consultant. You can leverage their expertise and remove some of the burdens off of you until you can fill the position. Phew!

Strategy and Planning

Final scenario: It’s time to update your nonprofit’s strategic plan, but you have no experience in strategic planning and don’t know where to begin. Uh-oh!

There are countless nonprofit consulting firms that specialize in strategy and growth planning.

These firms can facilitate and oversee your organization’s entire strategic planning process, including developing a timeline and work plan, soliciting stakeholder feedback, facilitating planning sessions, and preparing a final written strategic plan.

Many firms even offer post-planning support and can help you and your organization activate your plan and put it into place in your day-to-day operations.

In any of the scenarios we just reviewed, a nonprofit consulting firm can step in and assist. You’ll get access to consultants with years of experience and specialized skills to meet your needs.

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Top Nonprofit Consulting Firms

Top

Now you know what a nonprofit consulting firm is and how they can help you.

You may even be ready to hire a nonprofit consulting firm to support your organization. But where do you begin? How do you find a firm that can meet your needs?

Here’s something to keep in mind: some consulting firms are super specialized in specific functions, like human resources or fundraising. And some firms are more well-rounded, employing consultants with a lot of general knowledge that can help with multiple parts of your organization.

Don’t worry! We know this can be overwhelming.

We’re going to help you out by providing an overview of some of the best nonprofit consulting firms in the industry, their specific expertise, and how they might be able to help your nonprofit.

Let’s go!

The Alford Group

Background

The Alford Group is a well-rounded nonprofit consulting firm that serves nonprofits across the United States.

This group offers a full range of consulting services focused specifically on the nonprofit industry. They can help you with things like fundraising, governance, and capacity building. The Alford Group is a minority and woman-owned enterprise with headquarters in Chicago and Seattle; however, they work with nonprofits in almost every state across the U.S.

Services Offered

This firm can help with almost any need that you have, including:

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
  • Governance and Leadership Development
  • Interim Staffing
  • Data Management
  • Strategic and Organizational Planning
  • Fundraising

What Stands Out

The Alford Group stands apart from other nonprofit consulting firms because of its long-time commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and their focus on accelerating impact and advancing social change.

This firm boasts some well-known clients, including the Walla Walla Group and Conservation International.

BWF

Background

BWF is a fundraising consulting firm with forty years of experience in the nonprofit fundraising space. Since 1983, BWF has supported nonprofits across the United States and the globe to strengthen their philanthropic efforts.

Services Offered

The BWF team prides itself on being able to offer expertise in every facet of nonprofit fundraising. Some of the most common services they offer are:

  • Strategic planning and campaigns
  • Giving programs
  • Donor engagement
  • Prospect development
  • Digital fundraising
  • Campaign planning and assessments
  • Fundraising operations and analytics

What Stands Out

BWF has experience working with nonprofits in nearly every sector imaginable, including arts and culture, health, education, public and human services, the environment, animal welfare, and even with faith-based nonprofits. Here’s another tidbit—BWF is more than just a consulting firm. They advertise themselves as a multi-faceted services firm that takes a hands-on approach to fundraising and constituent engagement.

Averill Fundraising Solutions

Background

With over 75 years experience in fundraising consulting, Averill Fundraising Solutions is a well-known leader in the industry with the capacity to work with your nonprofit to level-up your fundraising efforts.

Services Offered

With an unparalleled level of experience, this firm can provide your nonprofit with expert support in fundraising functions such as:

  • Campaign planning and feasibility studies
  • Annual fund direction
  • Embedded staffing
  • Fundraising leadership learning and development
  • Executive search support

What Stands Out

Averill Fundraising Solutions stands apart from other full-service fundraising consulting firms by offering competitive pricing and promising an “outstanding return on investment”. This group also subscribes to the ethical principles and various industry associations such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and the International Catholic Stewardship Council (ICSC).

RealHR Solutions

Background

RealHR Solutions is a consulting firm that specializes in human resources for nonprofit organizations. This firm was founded by three employment attorneys in 2005, and has since established themselves as the go-to consulting firm for “consistent, relationship-driven HR services.”

Services Offered

RealHR offers a vast amount of services that can help nonprofits scale and sustain their operations. A few of these services are:

  • Developing recruitment, hiring, and retention strategies
  • Building an HR infrastructure built on best practices
  • Increasing HR capacity and capability in preparation for growth and/or change
  • Fostering organizational culture built on principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Creating talent management strategies
  • Managing conflict and risk

What Stands Out

RealHR Solutions promises a customized approach to human resources support for every partner they engage with. This firm is committed to learning about your organization, your team, and your unique needs before recommending solutions. This highly-customizable approach ensures alignment between their recommendations and your organization’s needs, which means that their solutions will be powerful and effective.

Campbell & Company

Background

Campbell & Company is a nonprofit consulting firm that offers support on a wide variety of nonprofit operations and functions. With offices in Chicago, Boston, L.A., Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., this firm has a nationwide network of experts they can leverage to support your organization.

Services Offered

Campbell & Company offers a robust package of support offerings to nonprofits, including:

  • Campaign planning and feasibility studies
  • Donor engagement
  • Annual giving
  • Data analytics
  • CRM database review
  • Prospect research
  • Brand messaging
  • Visioning
  • Communications strategy and case development

What Stands Out

This firm focuses on taking an integrated approach to assess your nonprofit and identify every possible way they can help you grow. Campbell & Company also has their own CRM, called Beam Insights, that allows clients to collect, store, and manage organizational and fundraising data. The Campbell & Company team then analyzes that data to draw unique insights and identify further areas for improvement.

Another thing that really makes Campbell & Company stand out above their competitors is their “hub” model; they have expert consultants in every region of the country with specialized local geographic knowledge. This allows them to really understand the philanthropic lay-of-the-land and all its complexities.

DNL OmniMedia

Background

DNL OmniMedia is a nonprofit consulting firm that leverages technology to streamline web development and marketing initiatives for nonprofits across the globe.

Services Offered

This firm specializes in nonprofit:

  • Web design and development
  • Digital marketing
  • Donor management
  • Event marketing
  • Data migration

They can also help your organization with custom software solutions using digital platforms like Blackbaud, Salsa, and Salesforce.

What Stands Out

OneCause recommends DNL OmniMedia because of their commitment to taking a personalized approach to helping nonprofits revamp their digital operations. DNL also has experience working with a diverse number of nonprofit causes, including education, faith-based organizations, healthcare, and animal welfare. There are even a few big-name nonprofits that work with DNL OmniMedia, such as the ALS Association and Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City.

The Bridgespan Group

Background

Bridgespan is a world-renowned global consulting firm that serves nonprofits and other non-governmental organizations. The focus of this group is to help nonprofits create strategies to scale for impact.

Services Offered

The Bridgespan Group has 4 primary services that they offer to clients:

  • Funding Strategy: Bridgespan helps nonprofits develop and implement a sustainable funding model by determining your options and charting a detailed implementation plan.
  • Growth & Scaling: Bridgespan can also help your organization plan for growth by testing your readiness to grow, establishing a growth roadmap, developing a model for transformative scale, and developing a monitoring plan.
  • Network Design: This group also helps networks of nonprofits increase their impact by designing and executing bold strategic and programmatic initiatives and refining their network operating model.
  • Organizational Effectiveness: Bridgespan works with executive teams to clarify strategy, set priorities, structure meetings, and resolve roadblocks to effective decision-making. More broadly, they can help you determine if your current operating model is ready for growth.

What Stands Out

The Bridgespan Group is a mission-driven consulting firm that is actually its own 501(c)(3). As a nonprofit itself, this group prides itself on the services they offer to other nonprofits and NGO’s. They know the industry! They’re also hyper-focused on strategy—they want to help clients re-engineer their organizational strategies to create larger impact.

Westfall Gold

Background

Westfall Gold is a leading nonprofit consulting firm that focuses on supporting fundraising events. They describe themselves as an “experience design agency” that works to fuel transformation for more than 159 organizations across the globe.

Services Provided

Westfall Gold offers start-to-finish services for all your fundraising events, including:

  • Event logistics
  • Creative direction and video production
  • Talent acquisition
  • A/V production
  • Major donor prospecting and consulting

Through their subsidiary, Braintrust Creative, this firm even offers transformational experiences for corporate groups and teams. They’ve worked with some of the world’s most well-known brands, like City of Refuge, Mercy Ships, and Convoy of Hope.

What Stands Out

Westfall Gold handles every single event detail so that you don’t have to. They’ve worked with nonprofits and corporations in almost every sector, including education, conservation, human services, health and medical, and faith-based. Their approach is rooted in major giving and donor experiences best practices, which means that any event they help you with will undoubtedly inspire donors to support your organization.

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Wrapping Up: The Next Steps

Consultant

Let’s recap what we’ve learned so far.

Nonprofit consultancy firms are organizations that help nonprofits achieve their goals and operate with efficiency. Some firms offer well-rounded, diverse offerings, and some focus on specific operational areas, such as fundraising, marketing, human resources, capacity building, and even strategic planning.

Engaging with a nonprofit consulting firm will allow you to leverage the subject matter expertise of industry experts for various functions and projects within your organization. If you find yourself in need of an expert and you don’t have one internally, this is a great time to start considering working with a consulting firm.

There’s no shortage of nonprofit consulting firms out there, but we’ve reviewed some of the most reputable and well-known ones for you in this article. Whether you need help planning an event, hiring a Director of Development, or revamping your digital marketing campaigns, there’s a firm out there that can meet your needs!

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