After reading Becky McCray’s great article on How to find people to help you with your business at Small Business Survival, I started thinking about the professional help that many nonprofit organizations need.
Many of the same services are needed by nonprofits just as they are in the for-profit world. Like many small businesses, small nonprofits will often use outside companies or professionals for services such as accounting, legal, and media design.
Gabriela Waters of Philanthropic Academy suggested a good first place to start:
I always like to start within before going outside. Who is helping your nonprofit now? Who do they use for similar services? Using people that others have had dealings with gives you a bit if an inside track and you can move forward accordingly. Does your board of directors know of any resources that you can use (within the boundaries of the conflict of interest policy of course)? I try to do the 6 degrees of separation in house before I make a cold call.
I agree, talking with your inner circle of contacts is one of the best places to start. Staying connected in your local community by being a member of service clubs or the Chamber of Commerce comes in handy when the time comes to need professional referrals. Calling your local nonprofit management center is also a great idea, as they may be able to provide information or advice.
Finding a good lawyer might be a bit trickier so I asked Don Greissman’s advice. He wrote a very informative article on how to find a lawyer for your nonprofit. It includes a lot of great links to sites that can help you find an attorney familiar with laws that pertain to nonprofit organizations.
Having someone who’s good at numbers on your board of directors can be a great asset. But sometimes you need to hire an outside accountant, for tasks such as an annual review or audit. CPA Carol Tapp give us some ideas on finding and working with an accountant.
Experienced fundraising expert Tony Poderis provides a take on the world of fundraising consultants. The Association of Fundraising Professionals has a consultants directory where you can search for fundraising professionals. The American Association of Grant Professionals also has searchable list of member consultants.
If your initial survey of local contacts is lacking, there are several websites that exist to connect nonprofits with service providers and/or volunteers. Here are a few of the best:
On Idealist.org you can search for volunteers and consultants who have already registered with the site. You can post your projects there too.
Business Volunteers Unlimited is a national organization that engages business executives and professionals on nonprofit boards of directors and and provides board and management consulting and training services for nonprofits.
The HandsOn Network from the Points of Light Institute includes a network of agencies such as 1-800-Volunteer and AmeriCorps.
The Taproot Foundation matches professionals with pro bono projects in the metro areas of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington DC.
Do you have experience with using any of these online services? Or if you have other tips or ideas for finding professionals, post a comment below.