Over half our work is devoted to the not-for profit sector: public schools, private colleges, charitable organizations, community groups, and other private institutions. Even firms with endowments rely on capital campaigns for building projects. Demonstrating the viability and necessity of a project is key to the success of a capital campaign. Once viability and necessity are demonstrated, benefactors who believe in the mission are likely to contribute. Our ability to turn building ideas into visual images helps bootstrap the fundraising process.

Capital campaigns can have better success when an organization can demonstrate a need. Facilities assessments and master plans are two documents that can show prior thinking in support of a capital campaign. A capital improvement plan (CIP) demonstrates how a capital campaign fits within an overall organizational plan for the future. We can provide this type of documentation, but this page focuses on the capital campaign itself.

Where a project timeline includes a capital campaign, we typically divide our work effort into a conceptual design phase and then a construction documents phase.

What does it Look Like?

The conceptual design phase has three goals. First, the project has to take shape. If the need is for more or a different kind of space, does that translate into an addition or a move to a new facility? Should the organization plan five years out, or longer? These questions can be answered directly. Some organizations choose to facilitate their own strategic planning retreat where these questions are deliberated. Organizations often include us in the facilitation process. Why? Because we can provide guidance on technical questions that come up. As the project needs become clear, it is time to begin articulating architectural solutions to the facilities problem.

How much will it Cost?

Second, conceptual design provides a first opportunity to determine the magnitude of the required funding effort. Construction cost is a major and obvious driver. We provide estimates of probable construction cost based on conceptual design. More often than not, we find ourselves providing several conceptual designs, each with its own cost estimate. Organizations can consider small, medium or large projects, with small, medium or large budgets. What makes a project small or large? It depends on the fundraising comfort level of the board and staff. What we at least can do is attach a dollar level to each of these projects.

Graphics and Brochures

Third, we produce the graphics and text forming the basis for information brochures. What does the project look like? Here is a photorealistic rendering. What are the sizes of the new rooms and spaces? Here is a floor plan with areas. How do staff and visitors move about the space? Here is a graphic that shows public and private areas. With these in hand, as either a brochure, a poster, or both, board members and staff can begin fundraising and meet with benefactors.

The conceptual design phase is generally equivalent to the schematic design phase of the typical architecture and construction project. It is reasonable to expect conceptual design fees to run approximately 15 percent of the overall design cost, or about one percent of the overall project cost. So, a rule of thumb with capital projects is that a one percent investment is necessary in order to raise the remaining 99 percent required to execute the whole project.