Key Points

This article explores the realm of partnerships among consultants who are supporting philanthropy, surfaces the forms those philanthropy-consulting partnerships take, and describes their benefits and inherent challenges. It also describes what foundations most need to know about initiating and supporting philanthropy-consulting partnerships.

Types of consulting partnerships are a function of the needs they address and the contexts in which they were initiated. A useful way of looking at consulting partnerships is according to their structure – whether the relationship with the client is primarily horizontal or vertical in nature. In a vertical structure, a client hires a consultant, who in turn subcontracts to one or more other consultants. Horizontal consulting partnerships occur when two or more consultants partner on a client project.

Through the sharing of both good and difficult experiences with these partnerships, foundations will be better equipped to consider how they can or cannot help them further their mission-related work.

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