The Talent Divide

In 19 years of the Milwaukee Fund, 667 different consultants were named on 2,095 applications. In reviewing that list, some big-picture statistics emerged.

  • 3% of the consultants were identified on 20 or more applications. These consultants’ proposals were funded 83% of the time.

  • 8% of the consultants that were named on 5-19 applications were funded 76% of the time.

  • The vast majority of consultants, 89%, were identified on 5 or fewer applications, and only 68% of these applications were funded.


    Bear in mind that the nonprofit applicant identified their consultant; the Fund avoided matching a nonprofit with a consultant, except for diagnostic clinics.


    If we just look at a single year, 2012, we learn that 60 different consultants were named on 127 applications.


  • Ten consultants were each used on two different contracts with grants from the Fund averaging $2,107 per project.

  • Two consultants were each hired three times with a grant from the Fund, averaging $4,500 per contract.

  • One consultant was hired four times and another was engaged on five contracts all with grants from the Fund averaging $4,855 per contract.

  • One very enterprising consultant, with a strong marketing effort, was contracted by 9 grantees for an average of $3,422 per project.


    So, in hindsight, what did we learn?  


  • There are about 20 consultants who have marketed themselves very well to local nonprofits.

  • Lots of people feel qualified enough to hang out the proverbial shingle and announce that they are a consultant.

  • The more familiar a consultant’s work was to the Fund, the more likely that consultant would be engaged for more work.

  • Most of the consultants who were named only one time, worked in technology or web design; at the same time, we can say that there is a lot of “expertise” to address technology or marketing needs.

  • Consultants who regularly work with Fund grantees work on smaller projects, mostly between $3,000-$4,000.


    While Milwaukee has certainly broadened its consulting pool, nearly 700 consultants wide, depth and quality of the expertise are still concerns that need to be addressed in the future.

4 comments | Add a New Comment
1. Sam Macklem | May 29, 2014 at 04:57 PM EDT

This was totally fascinating to read. Being a consultant, I always wondered how many consultants that were working in the field. During my 15 plus years as a consultant, I ran into too many people hanging out their shingle because they couldn't find a job, wanted to adjust their life to stay home with children, and other reasons that had nothing to do with really helping the local nonprofits. I do a group of consultant where continuing their education was very important, giving more to the nonprofits when the funding ran out, and truly helping nonprofits help themselves become stronger. The Nonprofit Management Fund was critical in helping consultants be better. The photos are a wonderful flashback, Pat!

2. Jim Marks | June 03, 2014 at 11:01 AM EDT

Wow - this is an amazing number. But not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing. Are there really that many qualified consultants out there? Although as I recall - somewhat vaguely - over the years most of the applicants were satisfied with the quality of service provided by their consultants.

3. Francis X. Vogel | June 03, 2014 at 02:15 PM EDT

Thanks for crunching the numbers on this, Pat. Jim hit the nail on the head by asking if there are that many qualified consultants in the Milwaukee area. That observation prompts the related questions: what does it mean to be qualified and who's setting the parameters in that regard? For starters, we could include those folks who graduated from NMF-funded Institutes, those who have earned professional certificates (e.g., CFRE) and those, say, with a relevant certificate (or degree) from a college or university (e.g., UWM's certificate in nonprofit management). It would be interesting to see how many funded consultants fall into one or more of the three categories noted above.

4. Scott Gelzer | June 08, 2014 at 09:21 PM EDT

The discussion on this post reflects the changing landscape in our town. Newer phenomenon include specialty intermediaries like PAVE and Schools that Can, the rise of a coaching and leadership program cadre and the Fund and its applicants fueling a group of people who were practicing consultants, not just between jobs. My recollection is mostly the same as Jim's that many if not most nonprofits were happy with the quality of services. Pat's in a better position than I to answer the query posed in her last paragraph. What types of challenges exist where nonprofits have greater difficulty finding expertise? If the Fund intends to build community capacity in the future, this would be a good starting point for a plan.

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