Take the Sting out of Soft Costs

By | Facilities, Industry | No Comments

Cost / Sq. Ft. x Building Size = Project Costs, right? Wrong!

I won the ‘key award’ in math at my high school as a senior. Small school, I know, but I gladly took the honors. Numbers were my friend, and they still are; calculus and all. So when I work an equation, and run a summation, I’m usually sure of the result. I bet most of us think the same.. Then come soft costs—those dang expenses germane to every building ever built that fall outside of that equation above. Problem is, though having erected some 10,000 buildings in the U.S., we in the Y continue to get stung by these soft costs in the construction math bee. What gives?

This week the math bee stung another client Y. Fuzzy math and our not having educated our volunteers as well as we can, led to a $1.5M delta between impression and reality. It wasn’t pretty.

I want to take the sting out of the bee, and go back to the days of when math was fun. Let’s all agree to allow standard Y facility budget forms, and the lessons learned over those 10,000 projects, influence are math game on our projects ahead.

The real math: To every dollar budgeted for construction of the building alone, including the cost of site improvements, we have to add a quarter, at least in cost modeling. If that quarter converts to 22 cents as a project is refined, even better. But for starters, before in-filling any cells in the spreadsheet, add the ‘*25’ to the equation. You can thank me in the morning.

Soft costs defined are those including the following (and, yes, it’s a long list): professional fees for architects and engineering (seven cents of that quarter already shot!), bonds and insurance, contingencies, furnishings, fixtures and equipment, fundraising costs, building permits, the temporary membership sales trailer, and the lawyer. The list lengthens with: the soil borings, the renderings that we didn’t negotiate in the architect’s original agreement, travel expenses, and the special events on-site that spread the word about our building more good. That’s NOT the list in total, but this is a blog not a book. You get the drift.

All said, let’s just get ‘em all on a list once, call it the ‘Standard, Typical, Template, By-The-Book Facility Development Project Budget Form for YMCAs’ and embrace it—just like I did with that key award. We’ll never have to get tripped up along the pace of a new Y development again, and thereby take the sting out of the soft cost bee.

Oh, no need to create the form from scratch. We’ve got that covered. As easy as 1-2-3.

Rod Grozier is director of facility development and design for Daxko T2 Consulting.

An Alternative to Committees

By | Campaigns, Fundraising, Industry | No Comments

One of the biggest challenges I am seeing in major campaigns is recruiting top-tier leadership. The words “committee” and “meetings” send them running. However, they often say, “But I’d be willing to open a few doors.” Which is what we want them to do anyway, right?

I’m working with an awesome Y that agreed to go a little rogue with me on a new idea. We blew up the org charts and job descriptions and went to the leaders we knew we needed and we knew cared about the Y. We shared the inspiring vision, told them what we needed and asked how they would be willing to help. Then we created a plan that worked for them honing in on the 3-5 key contacts they could make.

Occasionally we pull a couple of them together or schedule a call when needed to discuss strategies or coordinate contacts—but definitely a much different feel than scheduled monthly meetings.

The result? A “who’s who” roster of engaged leaders we never dreamed we’d get, and a branch campaign that went from $11 million based on the feasibility study to $20 million. And the best part: the volunteers are asking us, “Shouldn’t we have a meeting?”

Julie Sistrunk is director of financial development for Daxko T2 Consulting.

Make Your Website Personal and Social

By | Campaigns, Fundraising, Industry, Online | No Comments

We live in a fast paced, short attention span, information snacking, overwhelmed, and generally exhausted world. Now that we’ve come to terms with that, how do we take advantage rather than getting lost in all the noise?

The reality is that many marketers have answered that question, implementing tools to make their websites more interactive, personal, and social. Nonprofits are at risk of falling behind.

So what can we do to turn that around? We know that people give money and time to causes that they relate to personally. They give when they are stirred personally and emotionally by a story of the impact of an organization. They give when they believe they can be a part of that impact.

We all know this and we know that you are GOOD at it! Any one of you could sit down over coffee and have me in tears with story after story of how your organization has changed lives. Within five minutes of sitting down with me, you would know exactly which stories to tell me and exactly what would get me going.

So why not do the same online?

There are also tools such as Kimbia (www.kimbia.com)that allow your volunteers to make your story more personal and also share with their friends through social media.

What examples have you seen? What ideas do you have? We’d love to hear them!

Austin Merritt is director of market strategy for Daxko.

Make the Most of Your First Impression

By | Customer Experience, Engagement, Industry | No Comments

Meet Gabby. She’s my 5 year old Weimaraner and if she’s ever had a bad day I don’t know about it. She’s just that happy. Gabby waits for me to come through the door each night with more kisses and tail wagging than a carnival kissing booth. It’s a heck of a welcome home and one I’ll never grow tired of.

We’re emotional beings and the tone and mood of people around us can change our experience before we know it.

A new restaurant opened in my neighborhood this week and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I knew the place would be packed and the wait would be long. I expected service to be a little slow and maybe even for a less than perfect menu. All of that should be expected on opening night, right?

What killed it for me was the staff. The place was covered with hostesses, servers, and cooks, and every single one of them seemed to be having the worst day of their life. The food was good and the décor was beautiful, but it was so hard to get past the negativity with the staff.

With some customers we get one chance and one chance only. We have to make a good impression and in so many situations, the staff can make or break the experience. Think about your customers’ experience. Do they receive a warm welcome every time they come through the door like I get with Gabby? Or do they show up with good intentions and realistic expectations only to interact with a staff that clearly doesn’t want to be there and doesn’t really care if your customer is there either?

Companies and organizations that don’t put a strong emphasis on an excellent customer experience will have to fight that much harder to retain customers. The best product in the world is tarnished with a bad customer experience.

Watch your staff interact with members today. Hopefully you’re seeing a lot of Gabbys out there. If so, I bet your customers are having a good experience today and they’re already looking forward to coming back.

Britney Summerville is VP of Daxko Impact Services.