Best Practices for Inviting an Outsider Inside Your Nonprofit Organization

There are many reasons to consider inviting an outsider inside your organization. Usually, it involves a specific outcome or objective that you need or want to achieve.

Are your donations lagging? Do you need fresh messaging? Have you lost key employees?

If your organization already had the capacity to address the issue, you would have done it. 

Whatever the reason, you want to make sure to invite the right outsider inside. To start, there are three main categories of outsiders to consider. Here are some insider secrets about the different kinds of outsiders to save you time, frustration, and money! 

The Expert Consultant

A consultant is simply a person who provides expert advice professionally. The old joke is that a consultant is an unemployed executive with a briefcase. Although that may be true in some cases, a capable expert consultant can be extremely effective in moving the needle inside your nonprofit with strategy or implementation, or both.

The secret here is to buy the desired accomplishments (or results), not the activities.

The Fractional Executive 

A fractional executive is typically a proven professional who has successfully served in an executive role and now offers their advice and skills for hire on a regular part-time or full-time basis. Fractional executives may provide their services as independent consultants or through a company that offers executives-as-a-service.

The secret here is to buy cultural fit and the objectives that you need to be achieved.

The Interim Practitioner

An interim practitioner is similar to a fractional executive, except that management’s intention is to replace the interim practitioner with a permanent executive in the role. Depending on the duties and responsibilities, the permanent position may either end up part-time or full-time and could be an employee or contactor.

The secret here is to buy for ultimate outcome and as seamless a succession as possible.

Selecting the Right Outsider for Inside Your Nonprofit Organization

Once you decide that you need an outsider inside, how will you select the right one? This can be challenging for almost every nonprofit decision-maker.

The most common way nonprofit leaders start down this path is to seek a referral from one of their colleagues or trusted advisors. This strategy is definitely better than a Google search but can be limited by the periscope level and influence of your associates or professional network.

This has been a problem for a very long time, most especially in the nonprofit marketplace. So, what is the best solution?

The Center was created to solve this very problem. The Center is an orchestrated network, like an Uber® or Airbnb®, for the nonprofit community to connect nonprofits (and funders) to vetted industry experts and prequalified products and services to help solve their most immediate and important challenges in the most effective and efficient way.

Do you need to find the right outsider for inside your nonprofit organization?


Marc is Co-Founder and Principal Advisor of The Center. For the previous 12 years, Marc served full-time as executive and practitioner in three significant yet very different nonprofits, overseeing extensive domestic and international operations.