I have been working in the consultancy business with Evalumon Consulting now for about 1,5 years. During this time I have had the privilege to serve both the public sector, private companies and NGOs. In the public and private sector, the role of the consultant in the projects I have worked with, is usually clear and well defined, but in the NGO-sector this is not always the case.
During the past 1,5 years I have been written offers and won a lot of cases, but also done dozens of offers in competitions where I have lost the case. If my offer is not understood correctly, I have of course sold my business services and perfomance poorly, and here is a few thoughts of what might have gone wrong, especially in the NGO-cases.
The cost of evaluation and reporting is too high!
Well, if you wanted to evaluate and analyze what you are doing, why settle with the micro-size-project. If you are looking to improve the performance in your projects, you need insight and understanding of your processes. When done briefly, you will get poor insight. In consultancy business, time is money, and the more time you spend on a case, of course the fees will rise. But usually the cheapest deal will not get you the best result. There is a difference in the result if you have spent 2 hours or 22 hours on the case, even as a consultant.
100 euros per hour!
Yes, this can be the fee, if the case is a short term contract with a specific task. But consider, if you pay the consultant for a few hours with the know-how of the topic and that works effective on the case, maybe the case is solved within a few hours instead of weeks of work if you use the staff in the organisation. Be honest, if you could solve the problem yourself, why does the problem still exist? Why not solve the problems and get on with business as usual?
It is all about to find the right people, tools and services for the right tasks. If you think that 100 euros per hour is a high fee in a short term contract, remember to calculate what is included if compared to hire short term staff. It is hardly ever cheaper to hire short term staff to solve cases that need specific know-how. For these kind of contracts, you seldom find people available, when needed, making recruitment a challenge. And then, if the job is to apply for project funding, then the return on investing in know-how can be relatively high.
400 euros for a NGO-workshop!
I have sometimes offered a workshop for 400 euros and been turned down when the price has been considered too high. Well, what can I say. Again it is what you expect to gain from the workshop. Usually there is a selling-buying process, some preparation and familiarization work in advance, then the actual workshop including travel to the place hold and back, and after that analyzing and giving feedback from what was learned. Even if the workshop was like two hours, there can easily be 10-20 hours of work connected to it, when everything is calculated in. If 20 persons participated, the cost was 20 euros per person. Not much.
Anyway, if you are expecting to learn something for your organisation in efficiency, you will very soon have saved these euros back in efficiency. Again, using an expert can give you results in one workshop that some that are not as skilled will use weeks on to dwell. What would that cost you?
500 euros/month for NGO- board coaching, what in the world?
I have offered some project to NGOs that have had difficulties in time management, accounting cost, too few staff, contracting and much more. When going through the sales or buying process, we usually go over all stages mentioned above and then come to the monthly fee. This is often considered too high, especially if the NGO board is a based mostly on volunteers, including the board. Well, in these organisations, having a coach for the board can be really beneficial. In one case I worked with, we were able to save 20 % in accounting costs, just by making the decision making processes in the organisation more smooth. When the board is not used to board-work, workshopping together, coaching and looking at processes and cost structures together both saves money, makes the organisation more efficient and empowers the voluntary organisation. It is for sure worth the money to have someone to call, when you wonder what to do. Even better is to do a project for planning the organisation’s administration in advance, and you will not run in to so many difficulties. Typically, the 500-deal is started with a set-up project where we plan together and then followed by a follow-up that includes the board meeting, decision making process, planning ahead, streamlining, analyzing and evaluating. Typically, the customer thinks they buy workshops and meetings, but in reality you buy insights, analytics, empowerment and planning for the future.
These were some very brief examples. Now, why do I bring this up? Simply because I really enjoy working with NGOs and see the potential that the people involved usually have. It is so rewarding when getting out the most of an organization that work for a good cause. Because this will help the organisation to reach their goals, and the goals are usually to do good for somebody else. The efficiency in the NGO will almost always release more energy to focus on the original cause, when the administration, leadership, evaluation or other processes are in place. The customers that have made the deal get high value return on the investment! I am of course very happy and thankful for all those I work and have worked with, because it is a learning process for EC also. The next customer will always get even more value for the services, since we are likely to learn new things when different cases meet in Evalumon Consulting.
Every case is of course individual and the prize is always related to the specific project and it’s goals. What do you think about NGO-consulting? You can always contact us to find out more. Thank you for your time, if you read as far as this!
Founder and consultant