Understanding Philanthropy Consulting: A Tool to Identify the Roles and Capabilities Needed From External Support

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Brian Leslie M.B.A., SwitchPoint LLC; Kelsey Noonan B.A., SwitchPoint LLCClint Nohavec M.B.A., SwitchPoint LLC

This article categorizes the distinct roles played by philanthropy consultants and presents a tool and framework for charitable foundations to identify and evaluate the roles and capabilities they need from those consultants.

The article categorizes seven capability areas, from strategy setting to talent development, that are core to all foundations. Then, it identifies trigger points within these capability areas that lead foundations to undertake projects that may require outside support. Third, the article maps the capabilities that foundations consider in determining whether and how to engage philanthropy consultants.

The resulting tool is scalable and broadly applicable, providing foundation staff and boards with a resource for understanding the range of roles philanthropy consultants play on any given engagement and a mechanism for choosing the correct role and capability set, if required, by their own organization.

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