Is it time to hire an architect?

I am in the middle of a whole-house renovation. It’s a long, painful process, but we know the end result will be worth it. Why? Because we chose to use an architect when it mattered most, in the planning stage. We knew that to have someone with the background and education — not to mention ideas, imagination, know-how and experience — help us with the plan would result in solutions that we never imagined.

And we were right! The architect came up with a design that had a totality to it that we non-professionals never in a million years would have thought of. The plan answered all our needs and related to our lifestyle in ways that felt very personal. Now that we’re implementing his plan, we’re confident in every move we make, because we’re sticking to the basics of the plan at every step.

When you think about it, it’s the same in the field of fundraising and development. Having a framework, a road map — a Development Plan — that answers all your non-profit’s needs for the future yet also responds to and addresses current infrastructure, is a building block for success that gives your staff, volunteers and Board the confidence to move forward with deliberation and purpose. If we can identify the goals we want to achieve and then agree on how we’re going to get there — and have real rationale to justify our modus operandi — we stand a much better chance of succeeding.

Hiring an objective, seasoned professional at critical times in the growth stage of your non-profit’s life cycle offers an impartial, big-picture viewpoint that can unearth new possibilities and provoke a more realistic world view of your organization. As you are immersed in the day-to-day operations of your organization, it’s hard to see beyond meeting those immediate pressing needs. Is it time to call in an architect? Seeing your organization from a new vantage point can unhinge cramped and limited attitudes and open up myopic perspectives.

As I work with the Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association on their Development Plan, I am reminded of the importance of the stakeholders’ sense of ownership in every step of The Plan. I am working at every turn to enlist their input so that the end result belongs to them. As they go through the long and sometimes painful process of working to achieve their Goals, they will have a Plan they can believe in that answers their organization’s needs and is truly their own.

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