Nonprofit Consulting Firms: 16 Leaders in Their Spaces

December 18, 2019
Posted In Consulting, Strategy
Check out these top nonprofit consulting firms to help with any project.

Contact TeamDNL to learn more about nonprofit consulting services and projects.

Nonprofit organizations look to outside experts for all kinds of reasons. If you’ve never worked with a nonprofit consulting firm before, you likely already have an idea of the kind of support you’re looking for. However, you’re also probably unsure of how to get started and where to even begin looking for potential partners.

Nonprofit consultants and their services can be serious game changers for organizations. Let’s walk through the essentials you’ll need to orient your team during your search, and then list some top providers across several specializations. Here’s what we’ll cover:

Use the links above to jump to a particular section, or follow along with us from the top.

Let's start with the basics of nonprofit consultants and social sector consulting firms.

The Basics of Nonprofit Consulting

What does a nonprofit consultant do?

Nonprofit consultants and social sector consulting firms provide specialized, expert services to organizations that have a gap in their strategies and need or want it addressed.

The most common consulting services for nonprofits include:

  • Fundraising strategy, including a wide range of specialized campaign types,
  • Technology strategy and implementation,
  • Major giving and prospect research support,
  • Marketing strategy development,
  • Internal support, like for accounting or HR.

Nonprofit consulting services might solve a specific challenge, like customizing and cleaning up your database, or as more of a long-term investment, like designing a complete technology plan for your nonprofit. The most effective nonprofit consulting projects will do both⁠ — address immediate problems and provide long-term strategic value that helps you grow.

How do you get started with a nonprofit consultant?

There are a few general steps that you should follow when looking to hire a nonprofit consulting firm for any type of project:

Follow these steps to hire a nonprofit consulting firm for your next project or campaign.

  1. Review your needs. Start by specifically defining your needs. What do you need a consultant’s help to accomplish? What are your long-term goals for your consulting project? Clearly outlining these answers now will save time down the line and keep your team focused on the task at hand.
  2. Discuss the project with your board. Get your board’s approval to hire a consultant before moving forward. Depending on the scope of your project, this could be a significant investment, so it helps to have all your key decision-makers on the same page from the very start.
  3. Set some concrete guidelines. Define a few specific parameters for your project, including a general budget, a start date, and a tentative timeline. Document these to share with your board and with potential consultants.
  4. Research top providers. Research some top consultants who provide the particular services you need. Check the internet and ask colleagues at other organizations for their recommendations, too. Move forward once you’ve narrowed your choices down from many to just a few potential partners.
  5. Create a request for proposal (RFP). An RFP is a document that thoroughly details your project, its purpose, your needs, and the guidelines you’ve already laid out.
  6. Review your candidates. Work with your team to compare and analyze each nonprofit consultant on your shortlist of candidates. A few front runners will likely emerge. Send them your RFP and offer to answer any additional questions that they may have.
  7. Review their proposals. The most effective way to do this is to develop a basic scoring system for each key stakeholder to use when reviewing and ranking each proposal. Reach out to any candidates for additional context as needed.
  8. Weigh your options, and make your pick.

You’ll then need to work out specifics and formally contract the consultant’s services.

Once you get started with the actual project itself, the steps that you and your nonprofit consultant take will vary depending on a number of factors. Our expertise is in tech, so check out our guide to nonprofit tech consulting for a walkthrough of an example project.

These are our picks for the top nonprofit consulting firms broken down by specialization.

Top Nonprofit Consulting Firms by Specialty

Now, we’ll list out a few top providers of nonprofit and social sector consulting services, broken out by specialty:

  1. DNL OmniMedia – Full-Service Tech & Strategy Consulting
  2. Aly Sterling Philanthropy – Capital Campaign Support
  3. Zobrio – Financial & Accounting Support
  4. Astron Solutions – Human Resources & Compensation
  5. Bristol Strategy Group – Strategic Planning & Board Development
  6. PaperSave – Workflow Optimization
  7. Averill Fundraising Solutions – Annual Fund Strategy
  8. Brian Lacy & Associates – Multimedia Marketing Support
  9. ScienceSoft – Large-Scale Cybersecurity
  10. Carol Weisman – Planned Giving Strategy
  11. Marc Pitman – Executive Coaching & Board Development
  12. Donorly – Capacity Development for Growing Nonprofits
  13. LCK Consulting – Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy
  14. Janet Cobb Consulting – Strategic Planning for Small Nonprofits
  15. Bentz Whaley Flessner – Alumni Relations Strategy
  16. Harbor Compliance – Legal and Compliance Support

Use the list above to check out a specific entry as needed.

DNL OmniMedia is one of the top nonprofit consulting firms with full-service technology expertise.

DNL OmniMedia: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Full-Service Tech & Strategy Consulting

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

At DNL OmniMedia, we offer a complete range of nonprofit technology, marketing, and analytics services, making us a full-service choice for organizations of all shapes and sizes. We specialize in:

  • Nonprofit technology strategy development,
  • Software implementation, configuration, and custom integrations,
  • Blackbaud platforms, including Luminate Online, Blackbaud CRM, and Raiser’s Edge NXT,
  • Nonprofit web design and custom projects,
  • Complete support for large-scale data migrations,
  • Digital marketing strategy development and support,
  • Custom analytics and strategic planning projects.

With a focus on both the immediate importance of your nonprofit’s tech and its long-term ROI for your mission, we’ll optimize your toolkit to support your goals. Plus, as a certified Blackbaud Partner and Salesforce Cloud Alliance Partner, we can help ensure that your organization makes the most of its investments in these powerful platforms.

TeamDNL is an ideal nonprofit consultant for tech, strategy, and marketing projects.

Why They Stand Out

Few nonprofit technology consultants can offer as wide a range of services and support as DNL OmniMedia. Our expertise across all facets of nonprofit tech and digital strategy (plus our network of partners) gives us an edge on practically any project. Explore our past work for a few examples of our services in action.

And if you have any questions about your own organization’s upcoming projects or needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to help you or point you in the right direction.

Let’s Discuss Your Nonprofit’s Needs – Contact TeamDNL


Aly Sterling Philanthropy is a top nonprofit consulting firm for capital campaign strategy.

Aly Sterling Philanthropy: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Capital Campaign Support

 

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

Aly Sterling Philanthropy, headed by fundraising expert Aly Sterling, specializes in supporting larger organizations to develop and execute perfect capital campaigns. These major multi-year initiatives are transformative for nonprofits serious about increasing their impact and scaling up their operations. Aly Sterling Philanthropy offers:

  • Fundraising solutions and strategy development, especially for capital campaigns
  • Feasibility studies for major campaigns
  • General nonprofit strategic planning
  • Board management and optimization support

When it comes to fundraising strategy, Aly Sterling might be the perfect partner for your larger organization.

Aly Sterling Philanthropy is a top nonprofit consultant for fundraising support around any major campaign.

Why They Stand Out

Aly Sterling Philanthropy has a proven track record of success working with nonprofits to grow their capacity and scale up their operations. Their approach centers around engagement – both of your donors and your organization’s leaders – and sustainability, leading to lasting growth that will carry your nonprofit forward for years to come.

Explore Aly Sterling Philanthropy


Zobrio is a top consulting firm and provider for nonprofit accounting tools and services.

Zobrio: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Financial & Accounting Support

 

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

Zobrio is a leading nonprofit consulting firm focused on all things accounting, finance, and financial IT support. As a certified Blackbaud Partner, they truly understand the nonprofit sector inside and out. Working with both their own customizable products and all the leading financial platforms, they’re the expert to look for. Their core services include:

  • Complete start-to-finish technical support for leading fund accounting platforms, including Financial Edge and Abila MIP, for setup, configuration, integrations, and migration
  • Customizable add-ons, like cash management and billing modules
  • IT and managed services for 24/7 support

If you’ve invested in professional-grade fund accounting tools for your nonprofit, you have to safeguard that investment. Working with an expert like Zobrio is the way to go.

Their expertise with nonprofit specific tools makes Zobrio a top nonprofit financial consultant.

Why They Stand Out

Your finances are one area of your operations where you definitely don’t want to leave things up to chance. The experts at Zobrio have the experience and the know-how to support any one-time or ongoing projects that arise around your financial and accounting tools.

Explore Zobrio


Astron Solutions is the top nonprofit consulting firm for HR and compensation strategy.

Astron Solutions: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Human Resources & Compensation

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

Astron Solutions specializes in human resources and compensation support and strategy development for nonprofit organizations. They understand that strong HR infrastructures are essential for building a scalable, sustainable organization that retains its talent and grows year over year. Their full range of services include:

  • Custom HR strategy development and support
  • Finders Keepers support package tailored specifically for nonprofit employee retention
  • Compensation strategy development and consulting, centering around a Total Rewards approach
  • Custom compensation survey development and execution
  • Web-based talent management toolkit through their custom platform, Flare

HR and compensation are often neglected parts of nonprofit strategy, but they’re essential for growing your smaller organization into a mid-size or large one.

Explore Astron Solutions' services to see why they're a top nonprofit consultant.

Why They Stand Out

It can be difficult to find HR experts with extensive experience in the unique nonprofit sector. Astron Solutions exclusively works with nonprofits and small businesses, so they understand the unique challenges of organizations that want to grow by investing in their own people.

EXPLORE ASTRON SOLUTIONS


Bristol Strategy Group: Top Consulting Firm for Strategic Planning & Board Development

 

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

Bristol Strategy Group provides comprehensive services to nonprofits, including developing solutions, managing marketing, and building relationships with technology companies in the nonprofit sector.

Bristol Strategy Group determines your nonprofit consulting needs with a tailored 3-step process so that they can provide the most targeted, relevant support. They offer a wide range of services, including:

  • Strategic planning to suit your organization’s needs.
  • Board development that meets and exceeds all industry standards.
  • Audits.
  • Prospect profiling.

Why They Stand Out

Bristol Strategy Group uses their unique SMART Way methodology, which is a set of 10 questions that identifies gaps in your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy. Plus, the resources section on their website has a library full of information to help your nonprofit succeed.

EXPLORE Bristol Strategy Group


PaperSave is a top nonprofit consulting firm for workflow optimization.

PaperSave: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Workflow Optimization

 

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

PaperSave understands that the day-to-day logistics of handling a growing nonprofit can quickly become distracting or inefficient when your team would rather be focusing on the mission at hand. Keeping overhead low today requires optimized electronic workflows, and PaperSave’s unique document management system and support can help you. Their full range of tools and services include:

  • Electronic document capture, tagging, and filing systems
  • Streamlined invoice and data entry with their customizable workflow tools
  • Streamlined gift tracking and management, easily integrated with leading nonprofit platforms like Raiser’s Edge NXT
  • Simplified audit preparation and generation, ideal for grant management

PaperSave’s unique sets of customizable tools and personal implementation and support can help take your operations to the next level by clearing the clutter.

Work with PaperSave to streamline how your nonprofit handles all its internal tasks.

Why They Stand Out

Every nonprofit worries about minimizing their overhead costs, but few consulting firms and tech providers have experience addressing that specific need. PaperSave has worked with nonprofits of all sizes to digitize and streamline their internal operations, saving them tons of time and money in the process.

EXPLORE PAPERSAVE


Averill Fundraising Solutions is a top nonprofit consulting firm for annual fund strategy.

Averill Fundraising Solutions: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Annual Fund Strategy

 

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

Averill Fundraising Solutions is a leading nonprofit consulting firm that specializes in one of the most challenging aspects of nonprofit work — annual fundraising. With a combined 75 years of experience, the Averill experts have raised over $3 trillion for their clients. That’s a proven track record in helping nonprofits build effective and sustainable annual fundraising strategies. Their full range of services include:

  • Annual fund direction and strategy development
  • General campaign direction and planning
  • Feasibility study design and execution for major campaigns
  • Executive search and leadership learning programs

Averill’s approach focuses on hands-on engagement and complete customization. They know that one-size-fits-all strategies simply won’t work, especially when it comes to annual fundraising.

The experts at Averill can help build an annual fund strategy for your nonprofit.

Why They Stand Out

Averill Fundraising Solutions has helped to build out effective fundraising strategies for nonprofits in a wide variety of sectors, including faith-based, health, human services, education, and associations. Their range of expertise is unmatched among similar nonprofit consulting firms.

EXPLORE AVERILL FUNDRAISING SOLUTIONS


Brian Lacy is a top nonprofit consultant for multimedia marketing support.

Brian Lacy & Associates: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Multimedia Marketing Support

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

Brian Lacy & Associates is a nonprofit consulting firm that specializes in an area of marketing that many organizations today are neglecting (and to their own detriment). Direct mail and phone calls continue to be extremely effective outlets for nonprofits promoting their campaigns but only if they’re handled with the right strategies in place. Brian Lacy has over 30 years of experience in helping nonprofits reach more donors through their marketing services, including:

  • Phone messaging strategy development and execution to directly reach more donors
  • Unique marketing merchandise development to help your mission stand out
  • E-magazine design and production to bolster your newsletter efforts
  • Email appending to strengthen and refine your existing database

With experience working with nonprofits in practically every sector, this consulting firm is the right partner for your organization if it’s time to update your direct marketing strategies.

Work with Brian Lacy nonprofit consulting firm to bolster your marketing.

Why They Stand Out

Plenty of tools and services exist to help nonprofits build professional-grade digital marketing strategies, but finding expert, personalized support for direct multimedia marketing like calls and mail is more challenging. As a leader in the space, Brian Lacy & Associates is a natural choice.

EXPLORE BRIAN LACY & ASSOCIATES


ScienceSoft is a leading nonprofit consulting firm for cybersecurity services.

ScienceSoft: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Large-Scale Cybersecurity

 

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

ScienceSoft is a leading consulting firm that can handle any and all things cybersecurity. With more digital threats than ever, enterprise-level organizations must proactively and responsibly work to protect both their own data and that of their donors or members. With expertise in practically all areas of digital security, ScienceSoft is an excellent partner for large organizations looking for support. Their complete range of services includes:

  • Security assessment and planning — custom consultations, infrastructure tests, and stress tests
  • Application security support — full code reviews, web application security, and more
  • Network protection services — DDoS protection, firewall implementation, and email security reviews

This kind of advanced security technology is beyond the scope of most nonprofit organizations, even the largest and most flexible ones. When handling it in-house will be irresponsible, present undue risks, or jeopardize your compliance, taking your questions to an expert is always the smarter choice.

ScienceSoft nonprofit consultants are experts at keeping your organization safe online.

Why They Stand Out

ScienceSoft stands out among similar cybersecurity consultants for their complete range of services. You can contract their support for one-time projects, managed services (like email or cloud security), or complete managed IT services for comprehensive protection. Their services are flexible and customizable to fit any unique context.

EXPLORE SCIENCESOFT


Carol Weisman is a leading nonprofit consultant for planned giving strategy.

Carol Weisman: Top Nonprofit Consultant for Planned Giving Strategy

 

Overview of this Nonprofit Consulting Firm

An expert in fundraising and board engagement strategies, nonprofit consultant Carol Weisman is a smart choice if your organization is specifically looking for support around developing a planned giving program. With an emphasis on relationship-building and adaptability, her guidance can help you lay out an approach for generating sustainable revenue for years to come. Her full range of consulting services include:

  • Planned giving strategy development and execution
  • Comprehensive fundraising strategy development and support
  • Donor cultivation and solicitation coaching
  • Extensive board governance services, including retreats and recruiting

A one-stop-shop for mid-sized nonprofits looking for a personal guide to fundraising, Carol Weisman’s services may be the right move.

Carol Weisman's nonprofit consulting services are a smart choice for any organization.

Why They Stand Out

It can be difficult for growing and mid-sized organizations to find tailored support about planned giving, a fundraising method very often reserved only for large organizations with the personnel to focus on it. Carol Weisman’s services can help organizations of all sizes develop professional-grade strategies to raise more.

EXPLORE CAROL WEISMAN


Marc Pitman is one of the top nonprofit consultants to help develop and coach your board.

Marc Pitman: Top Nonprofit Consultant for Executive Coaching & Board Development

Overview of this Nonprofit Consulting Firm

Marc Pitman, aka The Fundraising Coach, is a well-known expert in the field of nonprofit consulting. One of his strongest specialties is executive coaching for nonprofit directors, board members, and development officers. His extensive background working with nonprofits and small businesses to hone their strategies can benefit your organization in a multitude of ways. His full range of nonprofit consulting services includes:

  • Comprehensive and customized nonprofit fundraising training sessions
  • Board governance training in a concise “Boards 101” format
  • Custom executive training services for directors, board members, and development officers
  • Thorough, custom support, including calls, emails, online courses, and more

Sometimes, a more intensive, personalized approach is the perfect way to kickstart structural improvements in a nonprofit, and that’s exactly what Marc Pitman offers.

Marc Pitman is an expert nonprofit consultant in all things development and coaching.

Why They Stand Out

Many fundraising coaches and board developments tend to sell their own trademarked approach with very little personalization or flexibility worked in. Not Marc Pitman. His services are built entirely around helping your organization learn to “raise money your way,” not necessarily his way.

EXPLORE MARC PITMAN


Donorly is a great nonprofit consulting firm for prospect research support.

Donorly: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Capacity Development for Growing Nonprofits

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

Donorly is a unique nonprofit consulting firm that focuses on helping small to mid-sized organizations grow their fundraising capacities like pros. With targeted prospect research support, their expert team can help you identify the right donors for the right projects, saving you time and effort and giving your campaigns major boosts. Their full range of solutions and services includes:

  • Unique membership-style plans that include dedicated, professional prospect research hours
  • Access to your own researcher to answer any and all questions
  • Hourly campaign and prospecting advising

This straightforward approach makes Donorly a standout among similar consulting firms that are typically better suited to major campaigns but not day-to-day prospect research efforts.

The nonprofit consultants at Donorly are experts at helping small orgs build capacity through prospecting.

Why They Stand Out

Donorly stands out because their membership-style approach to research and flexibility gives smaller organizations easier access to enterprise-grade prospecting tools. For organizations without the resources for in-house development staff, this can be a game-changer.

EXPLORE DONORLY


LCK Consulting is a top nonprofit consulting firm specialized in corporate social responsibility.

LCK Consulting: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy

 

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

LCK Consulting is a team of nonprofit consultants with expertise in helping organizations develop strategies to target an often underutilized opportunity — corporate social responsibility. As more businesses realize the value of giving back to their communities and the causes that their employees support, nonprofits stand to benefit considerably but only if they have actual strategies in place. LCK’s support services include:

  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy development and implementation
  • Marketing support for CSR strategies
  • Board development, advising, and coaching
  • Succession planning for executive changes

Many nonprofits now understand the opportunities that CSR represents for their missions, but few have the resources to devote to developing complete strategies. Expert support from LCK can help.

LCK Consulting is a consulting firm for nonprofits.

Why They Stand Out

Effectively targeting corporate philanthropy programs requires dedicated strategy, tools, and relationship-building techniques. With little experience in the area, your team may struggle to find its footing or start benefiting as quickly as you’d like. Experts like LCK Consulting fill this vital niche for nonprofits that want to supercharge their strategies.

EXPLORE LCK CONSULTING


Janet Cobb is a nonprofit consultant or something.

Janet Cobb Consulting: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Strategic Planning for Small Orgs

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

An all-in-one nonprofit expert, Janet Cobb can help your smaller organization get the footing it needs to continue growing sustainably. Her approach is more that of a coach than a full consultancy firm, giving her a more holistic and personable view of your nonprofit and the ideal solutions for your unique mission. Her full range of services includes:

  • Strategic planning for small nonprofits
  • Communications strategy development
  • Board retreats and executive coaching
  • One-off or extended coaching engagements for one-on-one support around any fundraising challenge

Small organizations have a hard enough time getting their first foothold in the fundraising world. Having a real, professional-grade strategic plan in place goes a very long way to help boost growth.

Janet Cobb really knows here stuff about strategic planning for nonprofits. Wow!

Why They Stand Out

Janet Cobb Consulting stands out because it offers smaller nonprofits with equally small budgets an effective option that’s properly scaled to their needs. No huge fees or one-size-fits-all solutions, just personalized support for building your nonprofit’s first strategic roadmap.

EXPLORE JANET COBB CONSULTING


Betnz Whaley Flessner is a leading nonprofit consulting firm for alumni relations strategy.

Bentz Whaley Flessner: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Alumni Relations Strategy

 

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

The experts at Bentz Whaley Flessner have years of experience helping large organizations, especially educational institutions, build-out strong programs to keep their bases engaged. Alumni relations and engagement are essential for colleges and universities to secure long-term support, so dedicated strategies and advanced techniques are always smart investments. Their full range of services include:

  • Alumni relations strategy development and implementation
  • Annual giving strategy development
  • Board development and engagement services
  • General fundraising support and planning
  • Grateful patient strategy development

Bentz Whaley Flessner has been a leader in the space for many years, and their expertise is a smart choice for institutions looking to bolster their alumni strategies.

Bentz Whaley Flessner can help your institution raise more through alumni engagement.

Why They Stand Out

Bentz Whaley Flessner stands out for its strong background serving a wide range of larger organizations. Universities require careful strategy in order to properly steward their resources, so going with a legacy expert is the right move.

EXPLORE BENTZ WHALEY FLESSNER


Harbor Compliance is a top nonprofit consulting firm for legal and compliance concerns.

Harbor Compliance: Top Nonprofit Consulting Firm for Legal and Compliance Support

Overview of this Nonprofit Consultant

Harbor Compliance is an expert nonprofit consulting firm focused on helping organizations effectively maintain all of the critical compliance issues that must be taken care of behind all the campaigns and events that might otherwise distract your team. Their complete range of nonprofit services include:

  • Fundraising compliance support and services, including filing registrations, exemptions, and disclosures
  • Secretary of state filings for nonprofits expanding their reach
  • Nonprofit formation for brand new organizations
  • Tax registration and exemption support

Don’t leave any of these concerns up to chance. Working with a team of experts will always be the better move.

Harbor Compliance is a leading nonprofit consultant for compliance.

Why They Stand Out


As an experienced and dedicated team of legal professionals, Harbor Compliance is a well-regarded player in the nonprofit compliance space. Compliance requirements should never be neglected since they directly affect your organization’s ability to function. As you grow, working with professionals is a smart way to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

EXPLORE HARBOR COMPLIANCE


Follow these next steps to get started researching top nonprofit consulting firms for your organization.

Next Steps to Get Started

Working with nonprofit consulting firms to develop strategies, build out your toolkit, fill vital gaps in your operations, or just generally support your projects can be a game-changer for your organization. Getting a nonprofit off the ground and then successfully scaling up your work and expanding your mission is hard work, so experts who’ve done it before can be invaluable partners in the process.

If you’re ready to begin your research and potentially reach out to candidates, check out the first section of this guide again, focusing on the steps for hiring a nonprofit consultant. For other questions, especially about nonprofit technology, strategy, and marketing projects (and what to expect from working with a consultant on those projects), don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to help you get started and better understand the process.

And always be sure to continue your research with a few additional resources:

Reach out to DNL OmniMedia with any questions about nonprofit consulting and what it's like to work with a consulting firm.

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