This post was originally published on my personal portfolio site at

In the weeds? Maybe it’s time to hire someone.

If you’ve never worked with a freelancer or consultant before, it may not even occur to you as an option. Hiring someone on a contract or for project-based work can be a great way to maximize your limited resources.

Here are a few examples of when it might be time to hire some help to extend your reach and fuel your mission.

You need a specialized skillset.

This is perhaps the most obvious situation. Small organizations and nonprofits tend to have generalists–people who can do a little bit of everything, but may not possess deep expertise in a particular skill set, such as graphic design, programming, search engine optimization or another highly technical field. Usually, this is because you don’t need full-time access to this skill. But if you know what you need, and just need someone to help you build it, a freelancer can be a great option.

You’re not sure what you need.

The other side of this coin is just as important. Maybe you don’t know exactly what you need, but you have a problem to solve. A trusted partner who can serve as a consultant can be a tremendous resource in this situation.

They can conduct research, connect you with potential resources and present a clear situation analysis and possible solutions so that you can make informed decisions. In addition to saving you a lot of nitty-gritty work, freelancing consultants can bolster your authority if you are presenting your proposed course of action to your manager (or, as is so often the case within nonprofits, a committee). This person can also serve as a neutral outsider to help disarm some of the internal politics so common to mission work.

Your Important/Not Urgent Quadrant is Sorely Neglected

When you’re a one-person team in an organization, sometimes you go through entire seasons feeling like you’re putting out fires rather than building the systems and tools that could make real progress toward your objectives.

By Rorybowman [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Maybe you could really use an editorial calendar to help guide donor communications, but you just can’t find the time to build it out. Or maybe you have some highly detailed organizational project you don’t have a week to pore over, and it’s too important to rely on a volunteer who may not come through. Maybe there’s been something you’ve been meaning to research, and instead of spending 15 hours trawling the Internet for useful information, you’d really like a high-level report to help guide your next steps.

It’s Crunch Time

Year-end campaigns. Annual fundraising events. Whatever your organization’s insane crunch time is. When you’re working long hours and just aren’t sure how you’ll get everything done, an extra hand can be the difference between burnout and triumph.

You Need to Bridge a Vacancy

Even with plenty of notice and a thorough hand-off process, it can be hard to keep up when people leave your team. No, this likely isn’t the *best* time to also hire a brand-new freelancer, but if you have an existing relationship with someone you trust, it’s a great opportunity to hand off some of the work that might otherwise slip through the cracks as you’re saying goodbye to one team member, interviewing candidates and onboarding a new hire.

Which brings me to the topic of next week’s post: Why you should have a relationship with a freelancer, even if you don’t think you need one.

Stay tuned!

Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash

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