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5 Things to Consider When Starting a Nonprofit Center

February 4, 2016 by Katie Edwards1

I often get calls from people thinking about starting a nonprofit center in their community. While we believe in the power of shared space, there are several things you should consider before you break ground.

Featured Member Nonprofit Center: Foundation For a Healthy Kentucky

1.     Is your vision clear? It’s highly important to know what you are trying to create, whether it’s a coworking space for artists or social entrepreneurs or a one-stop shop for people experiencing homelessness.  People need to understand what you are trying to develop before they will jump on board as partners.

2.     Is there enough demand to support a center? Far too often nonprofit centers struggle because there aren’t enough organizations in their target demographic. Some centers have had to shift from being a service or theme center to a multi-sector model in order to make their financial model work. A good feasibility study will uncover how much space nonprofits in your community currently need.

3.     Are your partners satisfied with their current space? It is expensive to move, and it disrupts your organization’s operations. Nonprofits won’t move unless something significant happens, like they are growing out of their space, they can’t afford the rent, or – in some extreme cases – their building has been condemned.

4.     Is your organization ready to take on a capital project? Capital projects require a substantial amount of cash flow. Even if you aren’t buying and renovating a building, you may need to do extensive tenant improvements to your space. Can your budget handle this investment? Do you have a donor base that would support this kind of project?

5.     What kind of partners are you looking for? Some nonprofit centers come together with a strong core group of anchor partners that help with the financing and capitalization of the building. Others are driven by one single organization that wants a partner to manage the building. Clarity around roles is incredibly important as you recruit partners.

Are you thinking about opening a space in your community? Contact Katie at for more resources around starting a shared space.


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About Our Blogger:

Katie Edwards

Katie connects NCN members with the resources they need to make their projects a success. She holds an M.P.A. in Nonprofit Management from Indiana University, where she studied nonprofit co-location as part of her coursework. Katie’s research background and her first-hand experience with the Co-location Task Force for the Indianapolis’ Early Intervention and Prevention Initiative give her a unique perspective on shared spaces and nonprofit centers.

One comment

  • Nicole Mills

    February 26, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Thank you Katie! This article was very informative.
    Nicole Mills, REALTOR®, RE/MAX Destiny – Cambridge, MA


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