All posts by Mark Haas


The Value of Conveying Complex Ideas in Simple Terms

Complex problems may require complex solutions. But no matter how complicated the issue, nonprofit consultants need to find a way to discuss both the problems and the solutions in simple, concise language. Good communication means making sure your message is accurately received, not just that you sent it.

It’s far too easy to hide behind jargon or consultant-speak or to expound on management theories that clients aren’t familiar with. We use jargon because it’s easy. It’s a shortcut. It…


Better Ways to Survive Hard Times

Nonprofits expect their consultants to work miracles by helping them do more with less. However, with the most recent “Giving USA” report that fundraising grew just 1.1 percent last year after inflation—and predictions of very little growth in 2012—it could be a long time before charities are raising funds at the rate they did prior to the recession. What’s a consultant to do?

Logic and experience lead us to traditional responses in hard times: Grow revenue or cut expenses. But restricting our …


Play Nicely With Other Consultants

A nonprofit consultant is rarely a charity’s only source of advice. Usually other consultants—lawyers, accountants, vendors, etc.—are working for the same client. Occasionally, one of those advisers will say something unprofessional about another or withhold information that would be helpful to that person’s work. This is both a practical and an ethical problem.

Let me share something a nonprofit executive told me about just such a situation. The client said that in her experience, consultants o…


Beware of Nonprofit Management Fads

Managing a nonprofit is hard, and it is about to get harder. But rather than figuring out what’s wrong with old ways, too many nonprofit leaders and consultants who advise them instinctively look for new tools and approaches.

When times are difficult, it’s logical and natural to seek new ideas. It makes sense that staff members think they need a new approach, and, by good fortune, whenever your clients start thinking this way, some new article or book appears detailing how someone has already so…


Helping a Nonprofit Find Its Soul

Nonprofits value consultants for their expertise but also for their independence and objectivity. In no process are these characteristics more critical than in helping an organization outline its values.

Values are what a nonprofit stands for, the principles that an organization would defend and follow no matter what the consequences.

But it is not an easy process, and many nonprofits fail to achieve the following when spelling out their values:

Authenticity. Many groups state the values they as…