Clean up your nonprofit consulting contract in 2024

01/23/2024 2:39 PM | Allison Wong (Administrator)

The new year is a great time to improve practices, create efficiencies, streamline communications and more. Have you looked at your standard contract lately?

One of the perks of being an ACN member is the wealth of knowledge and support you have access to from all of our members. Ellen Shepard recently asked the group, “Does anyone have a clause in their contracts that if a client does not meet specific and agreed upon deadlines for the progression of the scope of work, you will charge an additional fee or renegotiate the contract for more money and/or extension of time?” 

A common theme from all of the responses is to be clear with expectations. Clear with client responsibilities, project deadlines and how a change in scope could impact the overall budget. Here are all of the responses we got!

Client Responsibilities 

Leslie Cain, of Bryn Mawr Institute, said she adds “client responsibilities” to her contracts and has serious conversations about scope creep and deadlines.

Don Raack of AltruNext reiterates the importance of setting clear expectations of client responsibilities. He adds, “we include a separate paragraph stating that material deviations in time or delivery from the client is subject to a change order which redefines timeline and incremental cost.”

Carol White of CBWhite says it’s important to be explicit about client responsibilities during each phase of the project and emphasize that meeting timelines is a joint effort. She adds, “We find that clients appreciate transparent communication about roles.”

Finally, here is the exact language that Randy Ford at First Story Strategies puts in his contract:

Pause in Service. Client agrees to provide to Consultant any information or resources Consultant requires to complete Services. Client shall provide such information or resources on or before a mutually agreed-upon date. If Client does not provide such information or resources within seven (7) calendar days of the agreed-upon date, Consultant will consider its Services “on hold” until the delivery of delinquent information, at which time the Parties will agree upon a new timeline for Services.”


You might consider setting up a billing schedule in your contracts in an effort to keep projects moving along. Thanks to Kelly Kleiman of NFP Consulting for this great suggestion! 

Leslie also adds a small 5% admin fee upfront on her budgets to cover for additional hours that will inevitably pop up during a project. 

Thank you to all who contributed to this topic. Let us know if you plan to implement any of these practices or have any other ideas!

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