Embedded Staffing: What Is It, and How Can It Help Your Business?

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Your nonprofit depends on people to move its mission forward. Most often, nonprofits think and speak about these people as supporters, volunteers, and sponsors. But you must pay attention to the importance of your internal team. Your employees are working behind the scenes to keep your nonprofit operating and driving impact for your beneficiaries. 

However, some nonprofits, especially smaller organizations working with limited resources, need help building and maintaining effective internal teams. This reality, coupled with the current economic climate and employment landscape vastly altered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation, means that nonprofits can easily face challenges regarding their internal teams’ capacity to manage to program, run fundraising campaigns, and deliver their mission to their beneficiaries. 

This is where embedded staffing comes into play. When you leverage embedded staffing, a third-party nonprofit professional (typically a nonprofit consultant) temporarily joins your team to help power your work and prepare for long-term solutions. 

This article will explore the ins and outs of embedded staffing and how it can benefit your team. Let’s get started. 

Embedded Staffing: An Overview 

Your nonprofit might find itself in the position where you want to build out your internal team to fill its gaps in grant writing, fundraising, or development. But you may need more capacity to expand your team formally. 

Instead of letting these challenges cut into your ability to deliver your mission, you can tap into the power of embedded staffing. For example, your nonprofit can work with a nonprofit consultant who will seamlessly integrate into your organization’s team and hold down the fort in your open role.

Plus, your nonprofit consultant will join your team with an eye to a sustainable future, assisting you in honing your hiring strategy and recruiting the right person to fill your open role for the long term and helping you manage the process so that you set yourself up to retain the top talent you hire. 

Additionally, embedded staffing allows your nonprofit to test-run a consultant’s services before hiring them for a longer-term project, like a large-scale capital campaign. Finally, having your consultant work side-by-side with your team can give you insight into what it would be like to partner with them for such a long and complex fundraising endeavor.

The Benefits of Embedded Staffing for Nonprofits

Embedded staffing is a service that weaves together the positives of having a talented temporary team member and a third-party expert working at your nonprofit. With a consultant embedded into your team, your nonprofit can see the following benefits: 

  • Having a temporary team member who already has a knowledge of their role and requires less on-the-job training 
  • Assist your organization with hiring in times of transition
  • Provide expert nonprofit-specific guidance and coaching for your existing team members 

An alternative to embedded staffing is outsourcing your organization’s work. But with embedded staffing, a nonprofit consultant fully integrates into your team. Thus they gain an intimate knowledge of your mission and your nonprofit’s larger goals and needs, which can lead to more tailor-fit strategies and solutions (and results!) for your organization.

How To Get Started With a Consultant That Offers Embedded Staffing 

Hiring a consultant to join their team temporarily can be intimidating for some nonprofits. After all, how can you be sure you’re hiring a consultant that will be a good fit for your organization and your existing team? Furthermore, how can you know that the consultant will do their very best to perform their responsibilities and be invested in your cause? 

Luckily, the process of hiring a consultant with embedded staffing services, when carried out correctly, can alleviate these concerns and set you up for a successful engagement. According to Averill Solutions’ guide to hiring a fundraising consultant, you should follow these five steps: 

  • Identify the goals you have for leveraging embedded staffing. You should approach the hiring process with deliberation. Determine why you need embedded staffing services and what you hope to accomplish with the consultant’s help. You should also pinpoint the budget you have to work with for these services and the expected timeline for the engagement with your consultant. 
  • Rely on your network. Your nonprofit colleagues have likely worked with a nonprofit consultant before. Reach out to your trusted peers to get recommendations for consultants to work with and get their honest reviews. Then, you can compile a list of consultants you’re interested in hiring. 
  • Meet with top candidates. Once you’ve worked your list down to the top candidates you’d like to consider, you should meet with them. Get to know them and assess how well they would fit with your organization’s internal culture. Ask them questions about past engagements and their guiding philosophies. 
  • Request proposals and check references. You should also submit a request for proposal (RFP) to your top candidates to get to know them and their approaches better. Give them two weeks to turn the proposal around. Their proposal will include their customized plan for assisting your nonprofit with embedded staffing. Additionally, reach out to references to better understand the consultant’s experience with similar projects and how collaborative and responsive they are. 
  • Sign a contract and get to work! Once you’ve thoroughly vetted all your top candidates and their proposals, it’s time to make your pick. Sign a contract that outlines the time frame for the engagement, payment details, and the specific responsibilities your consultant will take on and the services they’ll be providing. You should also include goals for the engagement and how you’ll gauge your success. 

Throughout this process, look for someone who can be your organization’s team player in whatever role they’ll embed themselves into. They should have a good understanding of your nonprofit’s mission and needs, the ability to collaborate well, and a communication style similar to your existing team. This will help them meld into your team and boost your current efforts instead of hindering them!

Hiring and maintaining a full nonprofit team can take time and effort, especially for small shops. To give your organization the best chance of continuing to deliver its mission and scaling up in the future, tap into the power of embedded staffing and get the help you need to improve your organization’s operations. 

Hiring and maintaining a full nonprofit team can be tricky, especially for small shops. To give your organization the best chance of continuing to deliver its mission andscaling upin the future, tap into the power of embedded staffing and get the help you need to progress in how your organization operates. 

 

Bob Happy is the President of Averill Solutions.

By Bob Happy