Key Points

Client and consultant can have fundamentally different perspectives on the progress and success of a consulting engagement. This article explores the insights and lessons learned by a dozen professionals who have been on both sides of the equation in consulting to philanthropy.

There are occasions when client and consultant are well matched and value is created. But there are also cases where consultants are delivering a formulaic or hyperrational response into a very human system, or where the idiosyncrasies of foundation work prove barriers to positive results. Consultants have a critical role to play, and clients have a right to demand contextualized solutions to complex problems.

With the degree of frustration and disappointment described by these experts, it boils down to this: Consultants need to be better consultants and foundations need to be better clients. This article offers guidance gleaned from the experience of those experts on how foundations and consultants can work together more successfully and discusses the need for dialogue to shape the growing market for consulting to foundations.

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