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Every few years, like a visit to the doctor I like to set up a few appointments with my therapist. I’m not good at reflection, I don’t like to look backwards because there is so much up ahead and I want to keep moving forward. The reason I schedule these appointments on my calendar and pay good money to have a therapist intervene in my life is because I know it will force me to slow down, at least momentarily.
My therapist will help me understand how everything I’ve been doing and thinking over the last season is truly impacting me. He will ask questions that peel back layers revealing insights (good and bad) that I either missed or chose to ignore. Therapists have the training and the experience to understand patterns of behavior and thinking, then offer resources to redirect areas that have room for improvement.
Going to my therapist is a lot of work! I have to carve out time before each session to get quiet and prepare for more than a casual coffee conversation with a peer. I am determined to get my money’s worth, so I’m going to make my therapist work! I dig for the most challenging issues I can think of and I prep myself to be more open to inner examination. Ughhhh!!! Even thinking about this inner work stuff makes me cringe, but if you have never done it, it is sooo worth it!
When I allow an expert to peek into my inner life and offer guidance and observations I ALWAYS walk away with clarity on how I ended up where I am and a plan to move forward. The speed of forward progress has no guarantee and it’s entirely up to me how much work I want to invest to move ahead and see change in my life.
If it’s been a while since you’ve let someone from the outside look into your nonprofit organization, there’s a good chance you have some blind spots. You’ve probably heard of the johari window where there are things you know about yourself that others know, some they don’t; and things other people know about you that you don’t know about yourself. Sometimes, I think those might be things we know a little, but don’t want to admit.
Nonprofit management is stressful and we are usually so integrated int what we do. It's not just a job and that means we can get wrapped up in the middle of things and not always see what's happening clearly.
Although I’m an advocate of working in areas that are your strengths, it’s also important to understand where the weaknesses lie.
Nonprofit consultants are like specialized therapists for your organization. A consultant can step into your organization and within a relatively short amount of time understand a great deal about what is going on, then help you understand how you got there and devise a strategy to move you forward whether you are scaling your organization, growing, or trying to streamline various aspects.
Like a therapist, a consultant has seen just about every version of what you are currently dealing with and has a vast library of resource to help you and your nonprofit heal if that’s what you need, to evolve into the next phase, to restructure, to clarify mission, vision and values and to strengthen specific areas of the organization.
A lot of nonprofits and churches use leadership consultants and that’s great. Here at Copper Hive we are focused on the systems and structures that support daily operations. So let’s use Nonprofit Human Resources as an example. If you do not currently have a dedicated HR person on staff or outsource this to an agency a consultant will walk you through several steps such as:
There is a lot more a consultant will do, but most importantly they will catch BLIND SPOTS you may have developed that open you up to unnecessary liabilities.
Once they identify all of these opportunities for improvement they will supply you with steps to protect you as an individual and the organization. I can’t stress enough that leaders in nonprofit management need to understand they can still be held liable for negligence on the part of the organization. Investing in professional assistance is worth every penny you’ll save in the event you get sued or something bad happens within the company. No matter how great your insurance is, just don’t put yourself in that position. Nonprofit liability and risk is no joke.
Haha - okay, that’s my little legal soapbox. I’m done now.
Similar to a therapist, you may want to engage a consultant for a short period of time, perhaps 3-6 months depending on what you’re working on. You may also see a benefit in maintaining periodic check-ins with that consultant even after the initial project is done. You have to gauge where you are in your organizational health and goals.
Part of what I do at Copper Hive is connect you with consultants who can meet your needs and get you over the current hurdle. There are a few ways to do this:
Copper Hive Consulting
Society for Church Consulting