We don’t always agree! I’m not talking about my wife and I, or my 16 year old (we almost never agree!). I’m talking about my colleagues at Ter Molen Watkins & Brandt. I’m talking about when we consult together.
We usually work in teams during our consulting engagements. This enables the client to always have a “go-to” consultant at the ready, even if one of us is traveling or booked. Many times, however,we work together with our client, participating in client meetings together, helping develop strategies together. During these activities, we find that we sometimes agree, but sometimes not. I think the client really benefits when we don’t necessarily agree.
Each of our consultants has significant advancement experience–we average over twenty-years each. So, in many cases, we have actually dealt with a particular issue in real-life. We are not just offering our opinion or coming up with a textbook answer. Since we have all arrived at our firm from different places, these experiences help to guide our consulting advice, and obviously, the experiences and the outcomes are sometimes different.
As a result, one of us may have had an experience where a particular problem was attacked from one direction, while another of us has experienced the same problem with a different approach or outcome. These different experiences help to strengthen the advice we give to our clients, because when we run up against different opinions, we are challenged to make our case for a particular approach or action. For me, these instances provide us with excellent opportunities to evaluate our own experiences in light of a particular issue facing one of our clients. It turns into a healthy, spirited exchange of ideas, and I think it usually results in the right answer for the right situation.
Some firms have a specific way of doing things–almost a book of specific approaches and activities that dictates the methods that the firm will use to approach particular advancement situations. We don’t have such a book. We rely on the experience and the expertise of each of our consultants to provide our clients with the very best advice possible. There is no specific TWB way of doing things. Clients who are looking for cookie-cutter answers to their particular fundraising issues may feel like they have come to the wrong place if they select TWB. But while we don’t always agree on the answers, we do agree that getting the answers right for each of our clients is our ultimate objective. Sometimes, it just takes a bit of extra conversation to get to that goal.