Request for Proposals: Organizational Development Consultant

Deadline for Proposals:  5:00 pm, Friday, July 12, 2024

Bidders Conference:  9:00 am, Tuesday, June 25, 2024Contact Lina Smith, Grants and Finance Manager, for video conference information.  ([email protected])


The Vermont Association of Conservation Districts (VACD) seeks proposals from organizational development consultants to assist its Board of Directors in developing a shared vision and implementation plan for the interrelationship between VACD and its members (Natural Resources Conservation Districts) that result in improved relationships and operational efficiencies. The end goal is agreed roles, responsibilities, and structures to enable Vermont’s fourteen Natural Resources Conservation Districts (NRCDs) and the statewide association (VACD) to improve administrative efficiencies, thus enhancing their abilities to deliver programs and services to their local communities.  Please see below for background information regarding VACD and its members.


The successful consultant will review documentation; solicit input from stakeholders; explore existing models of central services provided by associations and state agencies within Vermont and other similar states; and make recommendations for improved structures, services, roles and responsibilities, and agreements between VACD and its fourteen members that result in streamlining/consolidating administrative functions to achieve greater operational efficiency.  Key stakeholders include NRCD Supervisors and District Managers (directors), VACD Board members, and VACD staff, as well as Board members and staff of the State Natural Resources Conservation Council (NRCC), a Vermont state agency that oversees NRCDs and is engaged in a separate process to define its role and interrelationships with conservation districts.  Additional stakeholders include State and Federal agency partners, nonprofit partners, and other members of the natural resources conservation community in Vermont.

Work Products

  • Interim reports and presentations as needed
  • Final report and presentation with recommendations

Recommendations should include three possible scenarios and outline plans for implementation.  They should include items such as proposed changes to core organizational documents (bylaws and related policies); organizational charts, workflow charts and position descriptions; changes to scope of services and membership agreements; and funding model options and strategies, including analysis of cost savings/return on investment. 


VACD plans to select a consultant in August and we would like the work to begin immediately.  While this project may extend into 2025 to ensure adequate consultation with stakeholders, we would like the consultant to complete an initial phase of work in time to present their findings to our members at meeting planned for     mid-November.  

Proposal Content
Consultant proposals should include:

  • Methodology, process, and timeline to carry out proposed work
  • Description of previous organizational development experience 
  • Names, qualifications, and experience of proposed personnel
  • Names and contact information of three previous clients willing to provide references
  • Proposed budget

Consultant Preferred Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Experience

  • Previous work with nonprofit organizations, preferably associations
  • Previous work with boards of directors
  • Previous work with workload analysis and organizational design and management systems
  • Facilitation of multi-stakeholder processes and meetings with a diversity of participants, such as strategic planning and community engagement processes
  • Research skills
  • Knowledge of administrative structures that support multiple entities
  • Familiarity with new technologies that can create efficiencies
  • Understanding of nonprofit budgets / income generating models
  • Experience working with local / municipal governments ideal

How to Apply
Email proposal in a single PDF to Lina Smith, Grants and Finance Manager ([email protected]) by 5:00 pm,
Friday, July 12, 2024.

VACD is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, ancestry, place of birth, crime victim status, sex (including pregnancy status, sexual orientation, and gender identity), or any other characteristic protected by law.  VACD welcomes applicants of all backgrounds and experience and is committed to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of its hiring and contracting procedures.

Background Information
The State Natural Resources Conservation Council (NRCC) was created through the Vermont Soil Conservation Act of 1939.  Over the next decade, the Council oversaw the creation of fourteen Natural Resources Conservation Districts throughout Vermont to fulfill the following purpose:

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Legislature to provide for the conservation, development, and use of the natural resources of this State and that the lands, water, forests, and wildlife of the State of Vermont are among the basic assets of the State, and that the preservation of these lands, water, forests, and wildlife by conservation, development, and use is necessary to protect and promote the health, safety and general welfare of its people. 
(10 V.S.A. § 701)

District boundaries are based along county or watershed lines and districts work to engage land stewards, identify community needs, and mobilize resources to carry out educational programs, provide technical assistance, and implement projects aimed at protecting water quality and improving soil health and other natural resources.  NRCC and NRCDs are governmental entities under state law.  NRCDs are governed by five-member elected or appointed Boards of Supervisors.  NRCDs employ their own staff and are primarily funded by grants awarded through NRCC and State and Federal agencies and private or local organizations.  Conservation Districts have a historic partnership with the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS) – the largest funder of conservation in the United States – and most Vermont districts are provided office space in USDA service centers.  Staff supporting the Natural Resources Conservation Council are currently not state employees; rather they are employed by the Vermont Association of Conservation Districts through a partnership agreement.  

The Vermont Association of Conservation Districts (VACD) is the membership association of Vermont’s 14 NRCDs, created in 1980.  It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  The mission of VACD is to support conservation in Vermont by supporting information-sharing and dialogue, capacity building and training, representation, and financial resources to NRCDs, and by implementing state-wide programs.  VACD is governed by a 14-member Board of Directors composed of one representative from each member conservation district.  The VACD Executive Committee, composed of officers, oversees the day-to-day operation of VACD.  Over the past year, VACD has been working to reinvigorate its Board of Directors, including the creation of a Conservation District Capacity Building Committee, which is initiating this request for proposals.  Since 2008, in addition to providing services to its members, VACD has implemented state-wide agricultural technical assistance programs and, since 2015, a rural fire protection program to serve the constituents of our member conservation districts.  VACD currently has 23 employees.  The VACD Executive Director, who has been supporting both VACD and NRCC for over a decade, will be retiring in 2025.  

A similar structure of state agency oversight and membership association support of natural resources conservation districts exists throughout the United States.  Conservation districts were created in every US state and territory and the District of Columbia, and there are approximately 3,000 conservation districts in the US today.  There are also several national associations associated with conservation districts such as the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) and the National Association of State Conservation Agencies (NASCA), which may be potentially useful resources for the consultant selected for this project.

Over the past decade, VACD, NRCC, and NRCD budgets have grown, enabling an expansion of programming and staff.  This growth has provided opportunities for increased benefits to farmers, natural resource stewards, community members, and Vermont’s natural resources.  It has also brought growing pains and stresses, and increased need for improved structures and administrative systems to support expanded program implementation.  Currently the fifteen entities (fourteen districts and VACD), while deeply connected, administratively operate as independent entities without the benefit of centralized administrative services, resulting in duplication of administrative functions.  VACD and conservation districts are looking for new ways to strengthen our interrelationship and create administrative efficiencies that will streamline operations to allow conservation districts more time to focus on their core missions.  In a parallel process, NRCC and conservation districts are reviewing their enabling statute in anticipation of updating it through the Vermont legislative process.  

More information regarding the work of Vermont’s NRCDs can be found on the VACD website ( and additional materials will be made available to the successful consultant.  Previous efforts to generate shared visions, happy endings, consensus building processes, SWOT analyses, and more have been documented and will be made available.