True evaluation of a nonprofit consultant, involves assessing a consultant’s experience, hourly rate, in the context of the the complexity of the task with a clearly defined project approach and scope of work. Smart Nonprofit leaders recognize this and go through the due diligence of an RFP when seeking consultant.
Facilitation is fundamentally about managing change and assisting organizations in transition is likely one of the most effective use of a facilitators skills. Organizations seeking a competitive advantage will do well to consider the strategic use of facilitation and process.
the overriding theme of facilitating community engagement is the paradoxical challenge of giving away control and power in order to accrue back trust, collaboration and process ownership. Facilitating community empowerment requires not only an understanding of group process but, in the words of a mentor of mine, “group process squared.” Community engagement takes basic facilitation skills and requires them to be lengthened, deepened and expanded by a social theory multiplier
As I speak to potential clients, it is not too infrequent that I have to say, “When looking for a facilitation consultant it is important to separate and keep separate the concepts of facilitation goals and facilitation tools.” .
While meeting management is the basic foundation for facilitation, quality facilitation includes advanced practices and skills in addition to meeting basics. Focusing on these advanced practices will help teams manage process more effectively with a higher return on the time invested.
There is no easy answer to the question related to how much does facilitation cost. Cost is directly related to the outcomes being sought and the degree to which solutions are customized and tailored to your needs. Cost also related to competency and experience supported by a process of due diligence. Thinking deeply, being clear about expectations, engaging in dialogue and getting it in writing will all help you have confidence in the investments in facilitation and process.
It is easy for a consultant to quote an hourly rate of between $80 and $200 for facilitation services. Unfortunately, such an approach is shortsighted and opens both the facilitator and the client the use of smoke and mirrors in negotiating a price. I have found that using these three principles offers a more thoughtful values-based approach to discussing the cost of hiring a facilitator.
Clarifying goals and expectations at beginning of a consulting relationship is critical to the success of the project. A kick off Meeting is a great way to clarify expectations and make sure that assumptions are discussed at the front end of a consulting relationship. As the project moves forward the agreements reached in the kick off meeting can be periodically revisited. Being explicit about what is typically implicit often defines the difference between a consulting relationship and a successful consulting relationship.
Hiring an external consultant should be reserved for those times when a team does not have the capacity or expertise to manage the processes themselves.