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What to Expect from a CNM Consulting Engagement

Nonprofit Operations

March 7, 2019


Have you identified a need to amplify your work but don’t know next steps to reach your goals? CNM’s consulting department is here to show you how to navigate the CNM consulting process so that you can receive in-depth expertise on projects as large as organizational strategic planning and as small as a meeting facilitation. Continue reading for information about engaging in a consulting project at CNM, from initiating a project to determining your budget to setting expectations and overall goals.

Starting the Process

To begin a consulting project with CNM, your first step is to contact our consulting team by emailing consulting@cnm.org. After contacting CNM, our Consulting Coordinator Kyla Phillips will reach out to you to set up a discovery call. This call will cover your organization’s needs, determine the project scale, and allow our consulting team to make recommendations. We encourage you to visit this page to familiarize yourself with our expert consultants and provide input to our consulting team about your preferred consultant. The consulting team will then utilize the information they have gathered to match you with a consultant based on your preference, consultant skill set, area of need and consultant familiarity, consultant facilitation style, and availability.

Next, the client and consultant are connected over email and will set up a meeting to discuss project scope including the details, timeline, and deliverables. The consultant will relay this information to CNM where our consulting team will create a proposal with an estimated cost for you to review and approve. This is where you can tweak the scope and timeline to best fit your needs. Following your approval of the proposal, CNM will prepare a formal contract for you to sign via DocuSign.

Once this contract is signed, the consultant and client will carry out the agreed upon project. CNM will help bring the project to a close, generating feedback from both parties, and providing the clients with an evaluation to help improve CNM’s services. Should the project require additional time or expansion of scope, CNM will prepare an addendum for both parties to approve and sign.

Staff tip: One of the most critical, often overlooked factors in beginning a successful consulting project is buy-in. Before beginning the consulting engagement, seek additional support from individuals in your organization. It is especially important that the project is supported by the Executive Director and the board. Without support from these individuals, successful implementation of the consulting project can be very difficult.


The cost of a consulting engagement is dependent on the scope of the project. The cost outlined in the proposal includes three components of the consulting engagement. First, cost encompasses the consultant’s preparation time. This includes research, facilitation, and any meeting or deliverable design. Cost also includes the consultant’s time on-site, which is the physical time that the consultant spends with the client. Lastly, the cost will include any consultant follow-up time such as emails, phone calls, and documentation. The cost outlined in the original contract is based on the time budgeted to complete the proposed deliverables and encompasses these three components of the consultant’s time. If more time is needed to complete the current scope, or if the scope needs to be changed, an amendment can be signed to outline this change from the initial contract.

Staff tip: Have great need but a small budget? CNM will work with whatever sized budget provided and do our best to meet it. Not all needs of an organization can be covered in one consulting project, but CNM will work hard to create a project that fulfills as much need as possible within the defined budget.

In addition, scholarship funds are available for organizations funded by The HCA Foundation, The Healing Trust, West End Home Foundation, the Dan and Margaret Maddox Charitable Fund, or the Memorial Foundation through our Nonprofit Excellence Fund. Click here to learn more about this opportunity.


Once a client has their discovery call with our consulting team, it takes 1-3 weeks for a proposal to be created and signed. This timing can be quicker or slower, as it is dependent on client and consultant schedules as well as project scope. After the proposal is approved, it moves into the signed contract stage. This contract will include an agreed upon deadline for the project. To add additional time to a project or to change the project scope, an amendment to the contract must be created and signed.

Timelines of consulting engagements are dependent on the nature of the project and range from single meeting facilitations to months-long strategic planning efforts. In addition to scope of the project, the timeline is dependent on availability. Try not to schedule consulting engagements during especially busy times of the year, considering both your staff and board member’s schedules.

If you are looking for consultant availability on a specific date or set of dates, allow 3-4 months in advance notice. This includes but is not limited to needing a consultant to facilitate or speak at meetings or events. If it is closer to the date, CNM will do its best to find a consultant for your particular date and need, but cannot guarantee availability.

Questions to ask yourself…

Before beginning a consulting engagement:

  1. Have I familiarized myself with consultants I may be interested in working with using this page?
  2. How much availability does my organization currently have?
  3. Do I have organizational buy-in?
  4. What is the budget we are willing to spend on a consulting project?
  5. Is my organization funded by The HCA Foundation, The Healing Trust, West End Home Foundation, the Dan and Margaret Maddox Charitable Fund, or the Memorial Foundation?

During the consulting engagement:

  1. Do I need to change the scope or timeline of the project?
  2. Do I have open communication with my consultant and CNM?

Following the consulting engagement:

  1. Do I need to extend the consulting project?
  2. Have I completed the evaluation?

Explore CNM’s consulting page or email consulting@cnm.org if you have any further questions or would like to begin a project to strengthen your organization.