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Consultants & External Professionals

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Need a Consultant?
CURRENTS Article How do you know when to call a consultant? How do you make the case for a consultant? What can you expect from a good consultant? A former development chief and now consultant, Laurel Price Jones answers all of your questions about hiring an outside advisor.

A Conversation about Executive Recruitment with Dennis Barden
Podcast In this March 2012 interview with CASE, Dennis Barden of the firm Witt/Kieffer defines executive recruitment as the process when a consultant is hired to proactively recruit for a position, possibly from among individuals who are not looking to change jobs. He describes trends such as increased use of executive search firms across higher ed positions and tools like psychometric assessments and off-list referencing. He shares mistakes institutions make when searching for quality candidates and candidates' mistakes while interviewing for their next position. Finally, he discusses these considerations for hiring from non-advancement backgrounds: assessing candidates' transferable skills, internal capacity and resources to teach someone new to the profession and ability to proactively help a person move from one career path to become high performing in an advancement position.

Fundraising Fundamentals, Section 3.4
Article This section from Fundraising Fundamentals discusses a development office's use of consultants.

From Pressure to Progress
CURRENTS Article In mid-2009, Cornell University, which was grappling with a $215 million budget deficit, hired a consulting group to advise the institution on cost-saving measures. The alumni affairs and development department led the way in the restructuring effort. A large portion of the resulting savings came from realigning procurement, IT assistance, human resources, marketing, and other services that can managed by a central office.

Office Space: Help Wanted
CURRENTS Article Hiring the right consultant can advance your program, your institution, your team's knowledge, and the careers of everyone involved. This article offers advice for selecting and cultivating valuable outside talent.

Special Delivery
CURRENTS Article Some institutions welcome input from admissions consultants; some won't give them the time of day. Some consultants are independent "packagers"; others are members of regulating associations. This article describes the difference between the two kinds and in the ways they work to help students get into their choice of college.

Two Sides to Every Story
CURRENTS Article As marketing and recruiting plays a more important role in campus communications, more and more institutions are turning to outside consultants and creative agencies for help. Although it's become more commonplace, the process of working with an outside agency isn't necessarily well-understood or as smooth as both parties would like. This article, written by a consultant, sheds light on the process--its common problems and how to make it work best--by sharing the insights of several communications consultants.

Bluffing or the Real Deal?
CURRENTS Article Good research can be a lightning rod for change, imagination, and innovation. It challenges conventional wisdom, questions accepted assumptions, and tests the impact of new ideas. Better not to leave such things to chance or trust them to bluff, which the authors of this article say is common in much of the work that's considered marketing or market research in higher education. They offer insights about getting beyond the bluff; the results of good research, they say, can be hard to swallow because they frequently expose mistakes and contradictions. They include several case studies and strategies for recognizing authentic research.

Time Out
CURRENTS Article At first glance, the concept of outsourcing might seem somewhat antithetical to advancement--counterintuitive even. Advancement is all about building relationships and working together across campus, and outsourcing might work against that. This article explores whether outsourcing is hitting campuses the same way it's hitting the corporate world. It features examples from several campuses that currently outsource projects and addresses cost-cutting issues, making decisions about what to outsource, and more.

A Campus's Best Friend
CURRENTS Article Though tension is inevitable between plain-spoken public relations officers and cautious lawyers, they should work together to forge an effective partnership. The author, a lawyer, proposes seven steps for a productive collaboration. This article is of interest to media and PR officers, PR managers, and advancement managers.

Casting Call for Consultants
CURRENTS Article When hiring a consultant, everyone’s time will be wasted if you haven’t done your homework and aren’t prepared to manage the hiring process. Advancement professionals with responsibility for preparing requests for proposals, procuring consulting services, and managing the consulting process will find this list of nine tips useful. Among them: Understand your needs in advance; Make your RFP work; Ask the right questions in the interview; and Establish trust.

High Anxiety
CURRENTS Article A consultant, if used properly, can bring valuable perspective that leads to rapid progress you couldn’t have made on your own. Unfortunately, bringing in a consultant often mitigates those negative responses with clearly defined goals, solid internal communication, involvement in the process, a listening ear, and a lot of patience.

AdvanceWork: Top 10 Ways to Ruin Your Relationship with a Vendor
CURRENTS Article An amusing and honest look at how vendor communications go sour

Helping Hands?
CURRENTS Article Attorneys, accountants, and financial planners all influence donors’ planned giving decisions. Planned giving officers must respect the donors’ relationships with these advisers while seeking solutions that best serve both the donor and the institution. Close involvement, education, and careful management of conflicts can help planned giving officers overcome cynicism and build trust.

The Court of Law vs. the Court of Public Opinion
CURRENTS Article The responsibilities of public relations officers can seem at odds with those of attorneys during a campus legal crisis. The lawyers want to limit release of information; PR staffers often need to get the story out to retain public confidence. But both groups share an interest in protecting the institution’s reputation, and can work together, starting from this common ground.

Selection Savvy
CURRENTS Article For many campuses, campaign success means hiring a consultant. The article presents seven steps to take to find the right one: 1) collect background data on your institution; 2) compile a list of potential candidates for the consulting position; 3) draft and send out a request for information to the potential candidates; 4) narrow the candidate field; 5) draft and send out the request for proposals to the chosen firms; 6) evaluate the proposals and conduct in-person interviews; and 7) choose a consultant.

Call in the Experts
CURRENTS Article This article discusses issues associated with alumni organizations hiring outside vendors to design alumni organization Web sites. First, know the total cost of a vendor, including annual maintenance fees and start-up fees. Second, understand that a vendor will bring convenience, expertise, and possible delays to the Web site design process. Third, hire a vendor that recognizes the organization’s need for security and privacy. To conclude, five simple suggestions are offered to those alumni organizations that decide to hire a vendor: assess your needs; consider your options; know what you want; use good business sense; and talk with colleagues. Includes a sampling of online vendors that offer services for alumni.

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