If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.
– Sir Isaac Newton
The fundraising environment is complex, chaotic, and ever-changing, and these days charities need to give donors a myriad of giving choices.
This puts pressure on charities, but it also means that consultants need to find cost-effective ways to offer services to clients that cover all of those types of giving in an integrated way. What’s the best way to do that?
I decided six years ago to create a collective space where both complementary and competing consultants–firms and individuals–would come together. I call it ‘the day care approach’ to cooperation for the benefit of our charity clients. Having a variety of types of consultants together in one physical space provides a natural opportunity to create comprehensive and integrated services for charities.
We now have these “open” offices in Toronto and Vancouver. Colleagues from Harvey McKinnon and Associates (http://harveymckinnon.com), the key partner that makes this approach happen, Hewitt and Johnston Consultants (www.hjcnewmedia.com), and Climie- (www.climie-elliott.com) work in the same physical space (with some reorganizing and rearranging from time to time). Other firms like www.chriscartermarketing.com and www.nomadfilms.ca, come and go. Flexible desk space means when they need a desk, there’s one available
Some of the consultants in our space work with different clients and others share clients. Being in the same location allows us to ask each other questions and teach each other tricks of the trade as fundraising branches out in new directions.
In the ”day care” approach, everyone is playing well in the fundraising sandbox. I follow my children’s day care rules: Respect everyone in the sandbox. Listen carefully to all of your playmates when there is a problem. Share your toys.
Sometimes we compete for business or have other points of corporate tension. That’s natural. But seeing the bigger picture and looking out for each other’s corporate and client interests make this model work. Communication and trust are key.
Would we expand our model? Love to. We want more like-minded agencies in our shared space.