101 things a consultant could do

Crab nebula

If you are running a charity or social enterprise, the chances are that you are working with a small team who are all multi tasking. Chances are too that you are working with tight budgets, resources are stretched to the full, and there are lengthy wish-lists and to-do lists. Evidence of this will be seen in the carefully managed checklists of tasks that you have around you (or, just possibly, the number of Post-it notes and other reminders scattered throughout your life).

In a small charity a board will often find themselves weighing up the need for more resources and trying to decide whether to recruit. Investment in staff is vital, but how can a small social enterprise or charity be sure that payroll increases are sustainable?

An option is temporary staff, or short term contracts? But that brings its own risks – the best quality people want permanent work and, let’s face it, who would leave a steady job for one fixed at a year? Even if someone does take that opportunity, how can you be sure of their commitment, especially in the latter months of a fixed term contract when that employee’s effort switches to looking for their next job?

So it’s not surprising that many charities turn to consultancies such as CITOC for the resource or expertise needed from time to time. This might be anything from a one-day project (for example, objectively facilitating a strategic planning meeting, or hosting a user consultation session) right through to several months in an interim post or managing a specific project. Using a consultancy allows an organisation to buy in exactly the right expertise, without long term commitment, to prove a venture or progress it through a certain phase. The risks, costs, management time, delays, legalities and potential frustrations of recruiting are replaced by a simple selection process based on the skills required, mutually agreed supplier agreement, known and fixed price or rate, and speedy expedition. On top of all that, if things don’t work, exit is simple, immediate, and in most cases free of cost.

So what tasks could you ask a consultancy like CITOC to tackle? Any one of 101 things is the answer … and in fact probably a lot more. I’m not saying that CITOC would be the best bet for every item on this list, but many of these do fall within our skill set and remit, so we should certainly be on your “maybe” list!

101 things you could ask a consultancy to do for your charity or social enterprise

Governance

  1. Review your constitution and objectives
  2. Recruit, introduce and induct new board members
  3. Facilitate a board away-day and planning session
  4. Co-ordinate, facilitate and document a review of strategic plans
  5. Mediate over a complaint, dispute or disagreement
  6. Contribute to robust and sustainable operational planning and budgeting
  7. Advise on regulatory issues
  8. Develop governance policies and procedures
  9. Facilitate discussion and agreement on ethical issues
  10. Research and prepare a status report on any issue or project
  11. Undertake staff satisfaction / motivation surveys and report
  12. Research and report on the impact of activities or project work
  13. Prepare reports for funders or prospective funders
  14. Facilitate and author an annual report
  15. Research and facilitate work on a merger or collaborative project
  16. Advise on due diligence issues
  17. Undertake due diligence checks
  18. Carry out benchmarking and develop KPIs
  19. Hold a non-Exec Directorship
  20. Record and document meeting proceedings
  21. Conduct a GDPR review
  22. Advise on crisis management/avoidance
  23. Advise on charity and trustee insurance issues

Infrastructure

  1. Advise on IT infrastructure
  2. Develop an IT strategy
  3. Implement a transformative IT project
  4. Revise a website structure, or manage a full website re-write
  5. Develop policies and processes
  6. Write manuals and procedures
  7. Manage an office relocation or refurbishment
  8. Negotiate with suppliers
  9. Plan and facilitate a recruitment process
  10. Identify, implement and train your staff to use efficiency tools
  11. Advise regarding databases and donor management systems

Communications

  1. Review and revise website content
  2. Develop and author outward facing materials
  3. Design and implement an internal communications programme
  4. Design and implement a social media strategy
  5. Facilitate a brand review
  6. Facilitate rebranding decisions and planning
  7. Implement a rebranding project
  8. Construct, implement and report on a survey of users or other stakeholders
  9. Produce press releases and other PR materials
  10. Develop a co-ordinated organisation-wide communications strategy
  11. Advise and assist with gaining high level political influence
  12. Develop a stakeholder map and integrate with strategic plans

Stakeholders

  1. Assess grant applications
  2. Visit and assess grant funded projects, and report
  3. Facilitate engagement/consultation with grantholders, users, and other stakeholders
  4. Research and report on diversity and inclusion issues
  5. Develop and implement programmes to improve inclusion
  6. Research user needs
  7. Manage relationships with key donors
  8. Develop donor management protocols
  9. Develop volunteer policies and protocols
  10. Develop and implement a volunteer management process
  11. Advise on safeguarding issues

Staffing

  1. Review and revise roles and job descriptions
  2. Assist with various stages of a recruitment process
  3. Join a selection panel
  4. Develop HR policies and procedures
  5. Mediate over disputes or difficulties
  6. Conduct a rewards and remuneration review
  7. Plan and facilitate a staff away-day
  8. Develop a teambuilding programme
  9. Mentor a new or developing staff member
  10. Undertake a training needs analysis
  11. Deliver or source training on specific skills
  12. Advise on redundancy or redeployment options
  13. Source other expertise or specialism

Project Management

  1. Facilitate the development of a project plan and budget
  2. Conduct a feasibility study and report
  3. Interim manage a project whilst staff are appointed
  4. Cover for maternity or sickness absence
  5. Author a report to a project funder
  6. Develop an exit strategy for a failed or ending project, and implement
  7. Supplement project workers at peak times
  8. Facilitate follow on funding bids
  9. Review and troubleshoot a failing project

Finance and Fundraising

  1. Develop reporting tools for executive teams and boards
  2. Advise on appropriate accounting tools and implementation
  3. Troubleshoot finance queries and problems
  4. Assist with project costings and develop full cost recovery models
  5. Advise on regulatory issues and financial best practice
  6. Reconcile financial discrepancies and investigate anomalies
  7. Contribute to fundraising ideas and events
  8. Develop a capital campaign
  9. Research funding opportunities
  10. Develop funding concepts and bids
  11. Research and advise on purchasing decisions
  12. Develop cash flow tools
  13. Advise on reserves policies

Event planning

  1. Plan an event venue and programme
  2. Source and steward speakers and VIPs
  3. Facilitate, compere or host
  4. Assist with marketing and generating an audience
  5. Live report an event online and on social media
  6. Assist with event logistics planning
  7. Collect and report on event feedback
  8. Research and report on event impact

And finally

  1. Make tea and bring cakes for the team (CITOC doesn’t charge for this!)

NB This post was originally published in August 2019 and was revised and republished on 01 October 2020