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6 Tips for Nonprofits Working with Contractors and Freelancers

Independent contractors offer something that you can’t find inside your organization: an outside perspective. With specialized skills and fresh eyes, freelancers can transform your brightest ideas into amazing projects.

Nonprofits, with their purpose-driven focus and strict financial guidelines, have a special set of needs to consider as they team up with outside collaborators. We included our top tips for nonprofits to steer you in the right direction:

Secure Funding First

Before you speak to a freelancer about completing work for your organization, secure funding for the project. It’s easier to find the ideal person when you understand your resources rather than moving forward to pump the breaks because of budget delays. Be patient with organizational red tape and maintain clear lines of communication with your development team as you push for your project.

Be Mindful of Your Budget

Unlike for-profit companies, nonprofits allocate the majority of their funds toward the causes at the heart of their organizations. To stay within budget, make sure that you leave a buffer between a quoted price and your hard line. If you have $5000 for a website redesign, try to spend $4,800 on the redesign. The extra couple hundred dollars acts as a buffer for additional or unforeseen work, like that extra plug-in or website modification.

Follow Financial Protocol

Nonprofits — and particularly organizations that receive government grants funding — need to keep strict financial records. Does your nonprofit have a clear protocol for onboarding and paying new contractors or freelancers? Make sure to follow-up with your accounting team to confirm the proper procedure. Payable tracks all outgoing payments to contractors, as well as accompanying expenses, making tax season easier for organizations.

Focus on Purpose

A sense of purpose drives every successful organization, especially nonprofits. When you speak to your freelancer, make sure to emphasize your goals as an organization. Regardless of the specific tasks an independent contractor completes for you, imparting your vision gives their work a deeper meaning and broader context.

Avoid Scope Creep

Freelancers and project managers dread “scope creep” or the tendency for projects to grow beyond their original terms. Even with the clearest expectations, some clients ask for more, slowly pushing the boundaries of projects without consideration for freelancers. If you feel yourself about to creep, slowly back away and try to reestablish another project.

Pay on Time

When collaborating with independent contractors, prioritize payments to establish strong working relationships. The easier you make it for collaborators to make income, the more powerful your partnerships will be moving forward.

Elizabeth Wellington is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist who lives to tell stories. You can find her with a cup of tea in hand, scratching away in her favorite notebook.

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