Strategic Support: Pro Bono Nonprofit Consulting – Catalyzing Positive Transformation

A few years ago, I was at a conference where the keynote speaker talked about how she had been inspired by the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. to become a social justice activist. She described how she had spent many years working with her community’s youth, but that when she started getting paid for her work and no longer had time to volunteer as much, she found herself losing interest in her projects. It wasn’t until she realized that doing good work was an end in itself—not just something you did because you were passionate about it—that she finally found success in the nonprofit field. As they say: “It’s not what you do; it’s why you do it.”

The Challenge of Change

Change is hard. We resist it and often see it as a negative thing, but change can also be positive and beneficial. It’s important for people to feel safe during the process of change, especially if they are working with an organization that supports them through their journey.

The Pro Bono Consultant’s Role

The pro bono nonprofit consulting role is to help the nonprofit organization achieve its goals. Your job is to help the organization identify and prioritize its goals, then create a strategy for achieving them. This can be done by working with staff members or board members, or both, depending on your relationship with them (and the size of your team).

You can also offer support during times when there are fewer demands on their time–for instance, when there is an event coming up that requires some extra attention from all hands on deck.

Promoting Positive Transformation

For those of us who work in the nonprofit sector, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks and challenges that come with running an organization. But if you’re committed to catalyzing positive transformation, then it’s important to also ask yourself: what is the most important thing I can do? And what is the most difficult thing I can do?

The answers may surprise you! They certainly did me when I first started thinking about them as a consultant at Catalytic Consulting Group (CCG).

For example, some people might think that helping clients find more funding or develop their organizational capacity would be their top priority. However, CCG found that there were other things they could do instead–things like being honest about where we were falling short or inviting our partners into conversations about how best to serve their communities–that would have far greater impact on our clients’ long term success than simply writing another grant application or providing another training session on leadership development (which we still offer because these are great tools too!).

Strategic support is a powerful way to catalyze positive change.

Strategic support is a powerful way to catalyze positive change. Pro bono consulting is the act of providing pro bono consulting services to a nonprofit organization. This can include any number of different services, including strategy development, marketing strategy, fundraising and communications advice and implementation, website design & development or social media management.

In order for strategic support to be successful it must be:

  • A partnership between you (the consultant) and the nonprofit; not just an exchange of money for service.* Based on mutual trust and respect between both parties.* The right fit for both parties’ interests/goals/needs


I hope this blog post has given you some insight into the role of pro bono marketing for nonprofits and how they can help catalyze positive transformation. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can support your nonprofit or social enterprise, please contact us today!

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