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So, how does it work?   

It takes 1 million decisions to build a nonprofit building but only one to destroy your budget. Do you know the right questions to ask? Or even the where to start?

If your first thought is to start a build with an architect you're not alone. Old methods have taught us to start with an architect. But we have formulated designpower a new method of managing construction and project delivery that is perfect for nonprofits.        


No owner or Board should have to become a commercial construction expert. We are an arm of your organization and do the heavy lifting to get your dream space built quicker and within budget. Let’s see how T. Donovan’s representation can save you from costly mistakes by looking at what you have on your plate already...  

Let's look at your burden with a standard design-bid-build   

Now, with the designpower project delivery method

New Method

Let's get technical

What are project delivery methods? Simply stated, they are ways in which construction projects are completed. 


In Design-Bid-Build, the owner develops contract documents with an architect or engineer consisting of a set of blueprints and a detailed specification. Bids are solicited from contractors based on these documents; a contract is then awarded to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder. This is the traditional model for public sector infrastructure projects


In Design-Build, an owner develops a conceptual plan for a project, then solicits bids from joint ventures. These joint venture companies will consist of architects and/or engineer and builders for the design and construction of the project. This is an alternative to the traditional model for public infrastructure projects that does not involve Private Financing.

Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR)

In the CMAR Process, the owner selects a construction manager (CM) before or early in the design process. The construction manager advises the architect during the design and planning phases and then often acts as the equivalent of an owner's rep during the construction phase. 

Downsides for nonprofits

What is missing or overlooked?


These types of builds let you bid out your contractors, but almost always go over the project timeline. D-B-B's are notorious for going over budget and over project timeline because of miscommunications, change orders, re-designs, schedule revisions, and price modifications during the process. With the CM not involved in the design portion of the process, problems that could have been easily addressed won't come to light until it's too late. If you don't live and breathe construction or draw floorplans in your spare time you could be set up for failure. In fact, according to a study from KPMG, just 31% of all projects came within 10% of the budget in the past 3 years. People may already be talking to you about setting up a 20% contingency right off the bat for cost overrun. 


Usually, nonprofits are not set up for this type of build. With no bidding process other than your initial joint venture selection, the project owner does not have the ability to vet and price out contractors and vendors. As a result, we see higher prices. Timelines are usually well managed in DB's but with that, we see a decrease in owner/board involvement. Working through that concept with your board might be tougher than you may realize. If you choose a DB you also run the risk of getting a cookie-cutter build. DB's have been systematically conditioned to use stock builds and make adaptations and tweeks at your request. 

Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR)

CMAR would be a great fit for nonprofits. They offer the perks of having a construction guru guarding your time and money. They also offer more transparency and wiggle room in the bidding process. But the downside is they are usually not in-tune with the design aspect. How do they know if the architect is drawing plans that are dialed into your program. The CM generally stays out of anything design-related and you may find that the functionality of your space isn't what you had hoped for.

Let's compare...

How T. Donovan Creative does it differently.


  • We offer faster timelines than traditional D-B-B's because, as owners reps, we are solving construction issues in the design process and design issues in the construction process as they happen. ​

  • As construction managers, If any problems come up on the job site, we come up with fast and budget-friendly solutions on the spot.   

  • We guard your budget and timeline by creating efficiencies and ensuring alignment among all the moving parts.


  • We use our extensive design and construction knowledge to engage and manage the architects, contractors, subs, bids, consultants, and engineers so you can cherry-pick the level of influence you have in the process.

  • Unlike DB's, we see a large decrease in price because we control the bidding process and help you negotiate costs. Even when selecting an architect.

  • We work with YOUR board and YOUR staff on a PROGRAM-driven design. Every project is created from scratch and our team of designers and strategists help your team work through the GROWTH of your program before designing your new space.

Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR)

  • We are closest relatives to CMAR's

  • Once hired, we stand in as the owner’s representative and advocate in every step of the construction process from preconstruction, to design and bidding, through construction.

  • Having the hands that designed the space be the same as the ones that manage the construction of the space creates time and money-saving efficiencies 

  • Unlike CMARs, we hold influence over the design of your space. Take a look at our portfolio and you can see we spend time with our nonprofit organizations getting to know them and strategizing together about how the program should grow in the building. Or read it from the hand of our previous nonprofits, architects, and contractors. 


How designpower goes above and beyond for nonprofits.

No other project delivery method includes these added services. 

  • Soft costs are usually around 20%-30% of the entire budget but no other delivery method takes on the massive project of helping nonprofit owners out with them. 

  • We leverage our generous vendor relationships to get you nonprofit-friendly pricing on new commercial furniture packages

  • We start creating a full furniture plan early in the design stages and have a deep bench of vendors to combat long lead times. 

Interior Graphics/Storytelling

  • We facilitate charettes and branding workshops to help you and your team uncover what story you want the facility to tell.

  • We create branded experiences where your story, culture, and program all come to life in your space.

  • We help you use your space as a marketing opportunity by creating interactive donor walls, graphics you can tap with your phone and be directed to any webpage, and super popular selfie walls. 

Occupancy Logistics

  • Nonprofits need help moving into the new space. These moves are fully the owner's responsibility. W don't leave you high and dry after construction is done.  

  • We set up your AV/IT, Put your nameplates on the doors, even stock your coffee bar so when you move in you are ready to go on day 1.

  • We organize all of the logistics for your moving day so that you and your team don't have to "make it work for a few weeks"  


Click my mask to unveil some of our previous heroes! 

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