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Blog: What Should Your Nonprofit Pay for Rent, Anyway?

February 5, 2018 by Katie Edwards0

For most nonprofits, office space is the second largest expense, after personnel costs. Most of the time we make do with what we can get our hands on – working out of our living rooms or a donated church basement. Too often, we let our office space work against us instead of for us!

You may be fighting your office instead of fighting for your cause if in the past year, you have

  • Had to reschedule a meeting with a community member to deal with a flood in your program space
  • Wrapped up in blankets to stay warm since your furnace couldn’t keep up while typing up your latest appeal letter.
  • Spent time shoveling the walk instead of filing grant reports
  • Lost connection to the internet and your cloud-based file storage because of old wiring

I challenge you to keep track of how much time you spend fighting with your office the next week. I think you’ll be surprised. You can also take it a step further and multiply that by your hourly salary to figure out how much your space costs your organization each week. If time is money, your board may be interested to see how much your “free” or “cheap” office space really costs.

What should you be paying for office space anyway? (Here’s a clue: the answer isn’t $0.) For a quick estimate, do this math: multiply 250 sq. ft. per person times the per square foot lease rate for Class B office space. You can find the average per square foot by searching for real estate market reports in your region (typically made public by major real estate firms like CBRE or Cushman Wakefield). For example, since NCN has two staff in Denver, we should be paying $11,595 per year. (Depending on the local custom, you might be given the square footage cost by the month, so pay attention and adjust accordingly.) You’ll still need to budget for utilities, internet, cleaning, security, etc., and more.

Sharing space allows us to achieve several thousand dollars in cost savings every year – not to mention the time of managing the internet, cleaning the office, keeping the printer up and running, and more! Think you might be up for running a shared space? Check out Virtual Nonprofit Centers Boot Camp today!

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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.


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