Dos Cabezas Are Better Than One & We Need a New Facility

 In Smith & Dale Blog

Dos Cabezas Are Better Than One

We recently attended a party at a client’s home in the amazingly beautiful Sonoita, Arizona, part of Southern Arizona’s wine country. It was also hunting season, so we barely eked out a reservation at the Sonoita Inn (which is a very quaint old barn, and we definitely recommend).

Across the street from the Sonoita Inn, is the tasting room for Dos Cabezas Winery. They have great marketing and cute hats and t-shirts, but… we digress. Dos Cabezas is Spanish for ‘two heads’, which reminded us of the adage, “Two Heads are Better than One”.

It dawned us, this is how we approach consulting relationships: you know your mission, your constituents, your donors; and we bring the specific expertise to compliment and improve what you are already doing, or to fix a specific problem.

Whether it is building and training a board, executing a feasibility study and capital campaign, development work in general… we work with you to customize a plan that is reasonable, executable and affordable. And of course – we’re always open to further discussion over wine!

We Need a New Facility — I am envisioning something along the lines of the Taj Mahal.

One afternoon I was talking to my ten-year-old daughter.  She told me she needed to get some purple glittery shoes. Hmmm, I thought about it and then I said in my reasonable mommy tone, “Elliott do you need a pair of purple glittery shoes or do you just want a pair of purple glittery shoes?  There is a difference.”

I say that a lot to my kids, heck to myself for that matter.  Do I need the extra large fries, or do I just want it?  Do I want to exercise, or do I need to?   Anyway, it occurred to me recently that many of the capital campaign clients we have worked with or have almost worked with may need to address the “Want vs. Need” Question.

Several years ago, we showed up to a prospective client’s office.  It was a modest and old building.  Frankly, I was surprised because their campaign goal on the RFP was for 19 million dollars.  I assumed from the information provided and the RFP outline that this must be a realistic goal…or they wouldn’t have it as a goal. Right?

Two Lessons:

  • We all know better than to assume anything, and
  • Too many times goals are unrealistic (l plan to lose 25 pounds by the big event — in two weeks).  You may say, “Well yes! Goals are meant to stretch us.” And I would agree to some extent, but we need to manage expectations.

When thinking about a capital campaign, talking about a capital campaign and creating a building vision, there have to be some reality checks.  A good way to accomplish this is to work collaboratively with a Fundraising Consultant, Fundraising Committee, Building Committee and Architect.

Three Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the Fundraising Committee working directly with the Facilities/Building Committee?  There MUST be a cohesive vision.
  • Have we given the Architect a “scope of work” that is realistic?  In other words, if we can’t have the beautiful shiny Cadillac, tell them we want the reliable, easy to maintain Honda.  They should be able to provide a plan that fits your budget.
  • Have you done your feasibility study?  Do your feasibility study BEFORE you hire architects and the building committee has spent many hours on plans that may be unrealistic.

Oh yes, a brief note on Feasibility Studies, “Do One!”

So back to this client.  They have these beautiful designs and architectural renderings that include a huge parcel of land (they already own), it looks like a small complex.  “Wow, that is beautiful”.  Of course I’m thinking how in the world did the architect come up with something this elaborate?  And it dawns on me, this is what the client wants, not what they need and more importantly not what they can accomplish.

Successful Capital Campaigns are not about the building — they are about the mission.  When planning for a capital campaign be sure you delineate between the purple sparkly shoes and the comfortable, practical loafers and even the flip flops.  Your feasibility study will guide you toward the perfect pair of shoes with the perfect fit that you can afford and you donors will support.

Angie Johnson Smith, Co-Founder

Call Smith & Dale today to provide a free, no-obligation Capital Campaign Readiness Training for your board or leadership.  info@smith-dale.com or call Angie Smith – 520-990-0634, Deborah Dale, CFRE – 520-548-3440

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