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Nonprofit Consulting Essentials: What Nonprofits and Consultants Need to Know 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0470442401
ISBN-10: 0470442409
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  • Nonprofit Consulting Essentials: What Nonprofits and Consultants Need to Know
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Editorial Reviews


"No nonprofit executive should be without a copy of this book on their desk. It represents the end of having to wing it when it comes to managing your investment in a consultant. You, your consultants and the results of your relationships will all be the better for the practical, insightful framework Penelope has put together here. And the scope of it is impressive, covering fundraising, marketing, governance, management and even international consulting. Say goodbye to the confusion that has typically surrounded this whole arena. Should you hire a consultant? You'll know after reading this great contribution to the field. Nothing like it has ever been compiled before."
Dan Pallotta, Author of "Uncharitable"

"I started consulting to nonprofits back in the 1980's. If only I had this very useful book back then! It is filled with valuable insights and how-tos - a terrific resource for the field."
Beth Kanter, Author, Beth's Blog and Co-Author "The Networked Nonprofit"

"I often hear from career-changing marketing, operations, and management professionals from the corporate world who are interested in consulting for the "good guys" -- nonprofits -- as they seek more meaning in their own lives and careers. I will direct every one of them to Nonprofit Consulting Essentials for a real-world assessment of both the benefits and potential pitfalls of becoming a nonprofit consultant. While some corporate skills are transferable, the nonprofit sector has its own unique rewards and challenges, which Penelope Cagney describes well in this book."
Kivi Leroux Miller, nonprofit board member, consultant, and author of The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause

From the Inside Flap

Consultants are playing an increasingly important role in the challenging world of nonprofits. Yet despite the demand for consulting services, nonprofit professionals often lack the necessary insight into how best to choose and work with a consultant.

Nonprofit Consulting Essentials is a vital resource both for nonprofit leaders selecting and working with a consultant to guarantee the best use of their agency's resources, as well as consultants seeking a clear understanding of the more subtle dynamics that define a successful consulting practice working with social sector organizations.

Drawing on Penelope Cagney's years of experience as a top-level nonprofit consultant, Nonprofit Consulting Essentials is filled with keen insights and in-depth interviews with the founders and leaders of influential consulting firms. Throughout the book, Cagney outlines a number of concrete consulting strategies that can serve as additional tools for managers seeking to resolve complex organizational development issues.

Nonprofit Consulting Essentials also offers recommendations to nonprofit leaders and consultants to make their relationship the best it can be. Once a solid alliance is formed, they can tackle complex organizational challenges together, such as fundraising and marketing, governance and management, and organizational development.

Cagney explores what it takes to make the consulting experience a success and covers vital topics such as: the key differences between consulting with nonprofits versus for-profit organizations, the primary areas of nonprofit consultation, making the consulting relationship work, the special ethical considerations of consulting in the sector, and understanding emerging trends in consulting.

Nonprofit Consulting Essentials reviews the best practices and thinking in the nonprofit consulting practice, providing leaders and consultants a way to ensure a robust organization in the future.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470442409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470442401
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,208,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Penelope Cagney, MA, CFRE, President of The Cagney Company, is the co-editor of the 2015 AFP/ Skystone Partners Award in Research: "Global Fundraising: How the World is Changing the Rules of Philanthropy". "Global Fundraising: How the World is Changing the Rules of Philanthropy" has been licensed by the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics Press and will be translated into simple Chinese and published in China in December 2016.

She has consulted on fundraising and nonprofit management (planning, governance, fundraising) for more than 25 years in North America, Europe and North Africa. Penelope is on the faculty of the Nonprofit Management Institute at Arizona State University, and has taught at American University in Cairo, Egypt, Columbia College and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She speaks internationally on nonprofit management and fundraising topics. Penelope serves on the board of AFP International, an association of more than 34,000 fundraisers worldwide. For more information, visit

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is fantastic. I found the history of consulting interesting, and useful. The author says that despite the history of consulting being primarily a transfer of practices from the private sector to the nonprofit sector, the future could look differently. The nonprofit sector can positively influence the private sector. Different mental models are required.
The author has found research on many important issues that impact my daily work as a consultant that I didn't know there was research on. For example, there is research that shows that when a good process is used in consulting, outcomes are more successful. I see this in my work, and it is great to have research to back it up.
The author is very skilled at capturing complicated issues in ways that are easy to understand, and useful. I wish every client and potential client would read this book and think carefully about how to engage consultants in a meaningful way that increases impact.
I appreciate the discussion about the type of process that can be used to identify how a consultant could best help an organization. The key to successful consultant engagement is to think deeply about what is most wanted (the desired outcome) and to think collaboratively about the best way to get there. Finding the best fit with a consultant and allowing consultants to co-design the strategy for their work is often more successful than having the work defined without input. Figuring out what would most help an organization is often impossible when RFP's are used to hire consultants. It is somewhat like hiring an employee without interviewing them. It is difficult for non profits to really get the best fit with a consultant if they use an RFP which defines a scope of work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan D. Schick on February 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
We should give credit to Penelope Cagney for simply taking on the task of writing her recent book "Nonprofit Consulting Essentials", as we consultants have faced a tremendous dearth of research and simply good information about our profession. While I didn't find any bombshells in the book that would shift my paradigm (excuse the 90's terminology), I found myself nodding my head quite often, along with a strong sense of validation.

The book serves as a well-written introduction to the profession, research-based, but not filled with too much jargon. There is helpful information sprinkled throughout, including some good resources in the appendices.

Cagney makes strong points in defending the oft-repeated urban legend that nonprofits must whole-hog adopt business practices. She also gives nice overviews on some of the most prevalent content areas: governance, fundraising, and strategy.

Fellow consultants should benefit from the mini-business plan outline on pages 137-139. Even with this good tool, I was surprised that the book lacked in some practical areas such as proposal advice, closing deals, pricing, etc. As most of us know, that information can be found in some top general consulting books. Yet, I would have liked to see even one chapter on her take on how those ideas translate to our community.

Overall, Cagney's work is an excellent introduction to the profession for anyone considering becoming a consultant to the third sector, or for veteran corporate consultants thinking of entering the nonprofit fray. For seasoned consultants with a strong background in nonprofits, despite the lack of "ah-ha's", I would recommend her work as an important contribution to our field.

Jonathan D. Schick
Manager, Nonprofit Consultants Forum
Author, The Nonprofit Secret
President, GOAL Consulting
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Candida on September 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nonprofit organizations will inevitably find themselves at some point needing help in determining future direction, increasing impact, growing revenue, or otherwise dealing with a myriad of other organizational needs. They may turn to consultants for advice. Small nonprofits may do so because they do not have a staff experienced in every aspect of nonprofit management. Even large well-staffed organizations may lack the special expertise and skills that outsiders may possess. Whatever size the organization, board and staff are not always sure how best to work with consultants, what the expectations should be, or how to determine appropriate goals. Ms. Cagney's book, Nonprofit Consulting Essentials, is a valuable tool to make the best use of consulting resources. A copy of her book should be on the shelf of every nonprofit organization.

Candida Sandford
Past Chairman of the Board
Kids First of Florida, Inc.
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