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15 years

Over two million people are living, teaching, healing, and gather in buildings designed by Architecture for Humanity’s design fellows, chapter members, and volunteers over the last 15 years.

Within five years Architecture for Humanity will plan, design, and build beautiful, sustainable spaces both shelter and inspire and in doing so, we will collectively improve the lives of one million people.

For our 15th Anniversary we hope you support us to take this bold vision to bring the organization to the next level.

Support Our Strategic Plan:

Ensure Design Excellence

Because Good Design Builds Community Equity.

We recognize that achieving design excellence is about more than aesthetics. It’s about helping our community partners realize their long-term aspirations and building community equity. As a result, we see a continuing need to refine design standards, training programs and quality controls across the organization to ensure that design services meet and exceed community member expectations.

To do so we will…

  • Enable designers to focus on design by investing in operational and reporting systems to reduce time spent on administration.
  • Inspire and retain the best designers in the world as design fellows, chapter leaders and staff by developing training, retention and recognition programs.
  • Develop standards and principles for design, case studies of past projects, and enhance knowledge sharing platforms.
  • Establish a peer design review program that engages design fellows, chapters, staff, board members and advisers to encourage knowledge sharing and the emergence of a community of design experts and mentors.
  • Ensure chapter projects adhere to the mission and design standards by providing project management training and oversight.
  • Elevate our Design Fellowship program to be an acclaimed fellowship opportunity for mid-career design and construction professionals, one that creates a lasting network of alumni and supporters.
  • Honor great design by administering internal design award and recognition programs as well as participating in external design award and recognition programs.

We know we will have succeeded if: We achieve greater than 90% client satisfaction and post-occupancy evaluation ratings each year for five years.

Establish lasting community presence

Our work is best carried out at the local level – we benefit by maintaining local relationships and an awareness of local issues and opportunities. Working locally also allows us to better oversee design and construction, to monitor our impact over time, and reduces overhead in travel and salary costs. Therefore we intend to shift our resources towards localized rather than centralized growth.

Concurrently to better enable us to deepen our impact, we believe that we should identify and provide training in no more than three core practice areas. This will enable us to develop expertise, identify consistent funding sources, and innovate around these practice areas.

To do so we will…

  • Adopt a studio model and program staff around three core practice areas. Align focus of advocacy and programming along lines of core practice areas.
  • Establish resources for core practice areas like training programs, professional development opportunities, and tool kits; and train program staff and chapter members in one or more core practice areas.
  • Establish regional offices at key strategic locations.
  • Define and develop a tiered chapter structure with graduated levels of management, fundraising and project delivery structures. Extend systems to the chapters including fundraising, donor management, bank accounts, online donation tools, project monitoring and evaluation, and training programs.
  • Increase fundraising and dues paying membership so that chapter members can support the growth of the chapter network and the organization as a whole.
  • Identifying local opportunities and refer work that requires a long-term community presence to chapters in order to be competitive, responsive and financially sustainable.
  • Ensure chapter projects adhere to the mission and design standards by providing project management training and oversight.
  • Adopt fee-for-service model at the chapter level by defining a revenue sharing model and developing operational systems.
  • Recruit experienced professionals to join and lead local chapters

We know we will have succeeded if: We establish 10 local offices that support full-time staff and are fiscally independent. 70% of our staff and chapter members have received training in a core practice area.

Grow general fundraising

Our revenues have grown from $2 million in 2009 to $12 million today. This rapid growth is a product of our successful fee-for-service model by which funding partners pay for the costs of a specific project or program on behalf of our clients in communities in need. However sole reliance upon this model puts pressure on the organization to turn away clients whose projects are underfunded or for which there is no immediately identified funding source. Even with a funding partner identified, many projects require additional funding support in order to deliver design and construction services that ensure quality design and safe construction.

Additionally, the organization’s general fundraising has not kept pace with its growth and now represents only 7% of total income. By increasing fundraising for general support we can ensure the successful completion of all of our projects, and provide the organization with the flexibility and pre-development resources to invest in programs that solve systemic issues facing the built environment. In turn, this will allow us to improve lives where the need is greatest and impact most profound. .

To do so we will…

  • Develop a fundraising strategy that inspires participation in fundraising campaigns from everyone who is a part of the organization – board members, staff, chapter members, design fellows and volunteers.
  • Create a ‘Strategic Growth Fund’ to secure capital contributions needed to allow the organization to invest in critical operational systems and staff.
  • Cultivate sustained giving to our annual campaigns from major donors in a broad range of industries in parallel with small donations from individuals in the design and construction industry.
  • Invest in experienced fundraising staff and improvements to fundraising systems, such as our donor management database.
  • Expand fundraising capacity by recruiting high-net worth individuals to join our board of directors.
  • Increase chapter fundraising and dues paying membership so that chapter members can support the growth of the chapter network and the organization as a whole.
  • Develop passive income streams from programming such as requesting nominal donations for downloads of design documents from our website, and syndication of our Design Open Mic series.
  • Design programs to better fulfill our mission where we see the greatest need by identifying funding sources, writing grants and managing funding relationships.

We know we will have succeeded if: General support fundraising reaches 30% of total revenues allowing 100% of our program partner funds to go directly to support projects.

Improve communications

Communicating the impact of our work is critical to sustaining the organization and empowering our partners and clients. Our supporters and partners need to be aware of the range of services we offer, the robustness of our global network, and the impact of our successful projects and programs. Communicating our value is also critical to attracting and retaining talented professionals. Designers create competing organizations, unaware that they can join a chapter or partner with Architecture for Humanity to provide fiscal sponsorship. If we are to succeed we must better communicate our expertise and aggressively position Architecture for Humanity as the leader in community design.

To do so we will…

  • Translate the passion and founding principles that guide the mission of Architecture for Humanity to the staff, design fellows, chapter members and volunteers inspiring them to contribute as well as advocate on behalf of the organization’s mission.
  • Integrate monitoring and evaluation systems throughout our design process to enable us to better understand, track and measure the value of design as a vehicle for dignity, social equity and the development of thriving communities.
  • Upgrade our project management platform to embrace internationally recognized evaluation standards (such as the Human Development Index and IATI standards) to more easily communicate the return on investment in design to funders, partners, clients and global agencies.
  • Redesign our website and marketing materials to better reflect our brand, values, core practice areas and impact globally, highlighting the “Architecture for Humanity” brand only.
  • Integrate the chapters more fully into the organization in order to strengthen brand recognition and better communicate that we are one organization by highlighting successful chapter projects on our website, in local media and beyond.
  • Position Design Like You Give a Damn Live as a premier practitioners forum and training ground for community design professionals and as an opportunity to introduce strategic partners to our work.
  • Maintain commitment to sharing design documents while tracking usage and replication to better understand the reach of our ‘open source’ approach to design.
  • Provide language translation tools to our websites, increasing access to global support.

We know we will have succeeded if: Total revenues increase from $10 million annually to $20 million annually within 5 years.

Offer expanded community development services

The single greatest obstacle our community partners and clients continue to face is access to construction capital. Additionally, control over all phases of the design and construction process—from initial idea through implementation—is essential to delivering great projects. We therefore plan to offer community development tools and training that go beyond the traditional boundaries of architecture to empower our network of architects to become community builders in their own right. Rather than competing with local firms or other organizations that provide pro bono design, we plan to focus on generating opportunities for our network of design and construction professionals by providing community development services and enhanced access to construction financing.

To do so we will…

  • Provide planning, mapping, and development services at the neighborhood-level in conjunction with city agencies consistent with our focus on community-led design.
  • Recruit staff with expertise in finance, case management and economic development.
  • Create training programs and tools to assist design and construction professionals in learning about key concepts in economic development, construction financing, case management and real estate.
  • Develop new service offerings that assist our clients in gaining access to capital and other means of securing construction financing.
  • Help communities establish design-focused Community Development Corporations (CDCs) that will enable community members to access construction capital in conjunction with design and construction services (“CDC in a box” concept).
  • Develop monitoring and evaluation tools to measure the long-term economic impacts of capital investments in small-scale buildings and infrastructure.

We know we will have succeeded if:We are able to improve the lives of at least 10,000 people annually who live in under-served communities by providing enhanced access to construction capital.

How You Can Help

  • Donate to the Founders Fund
  • Become a Founders Fund Ambassador
  • Spread the Word
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