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Paul Evensen
12/Feb/2018

As we worked to create a regional framework for Social Purpose Real Estate and non-profit colocation in St Louis we looked to the considerable experience of the 400+ non-profit centers in the U.S. and Canada that have preceded us. Our review of this experience suggests that we could gain six specific benefits (Table 1) from creating non-profit centers. 1. Co-locating non-profits can enhance access to services by integrating services and putting them together in one shared location. The measurable outcomes might be increased use of services, easier access for constituents, and the establishment of a continuum of care. 2. Co-locating non-profits can lower costs by sharing “back of house” supports such as accounting, human resources, and risk management. Further, reduced turnover and the benefit from being near other organizational directors and program administrators could contribute to the bottom line. The measurable outcomes could be increased operational strength and efficiency, lower costs, and better managed organizations. These benefits may be particularly valued by smaller non-profit organizations or by newer ones seeking to establish effective systems.


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05/Feb/2018

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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Paul Evensen
22/Jan/2018

On April 18, 2017 more than 100 community leaders gathered at the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis to advance a regional strategy for social purpose real estate (SPRE). Representatives from banking, community development, philanthropy, non-profit administration, government, and academia listened to national thought leaders, studied case examples, and reviewed the emerging landscape of projects in the St Louis region. Principles to guide SPRE and non-profit center development were identified through facilitated small group discussion. A consensus process across six teams resulted in adoption of the values and descriptions provided here. We share them with our peers across the nation in hopes of gaining feedback and to learn more about how other regions are holding themselves accountable to shared values as they implement social purpose real estate and non-profit colocation strategies.


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09/Jan/2018

It’s a new year! Time to get into shape! No, I’m not here to harass you on how well your New Year’s resolution towards good health is going, or if you’ve already given up on it. (You can do it!) I’m here to help your nonprofit get its plan about sharing space into shape, so you can present your best self to your community. This year, we're bringing you a different kind of Boot Camp, that's making it super easy and cost effective to learn about nonprofit shared space with Virtual Nonprofit Centers Boot Camp. You can get in shape on your own (in your pjs) over 2 months or with your colleagues (maybe not in your pjs) over 6 months, starting whenever you register. Make this year the year you dive into the idea that you, your board, or community has been thinking about: getting serious about shared space. Here are just a few ways Virtual Nonprofit Centers Boot Camp will get you and your team there:


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18/Dec/2017

I’ve had several conversations with new NCN members just starting the process to see if a nonprofit center is the right thing for their community. People talking this project for the first time are some of my favorites to work with – the energy, the inspiration, the passion. Inevitably, at some point excitement transitions to overwhelmed, as leaders struggle to balance their vision with the growing workload. That’s where we come in! Because how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! We’ve helped so many people break down their shared space project into manageable chunks, making their dream a reality.  Here are my top tips for managing this process: Write down your why: Whether it’s an official statement of purpose or just the top three reasons you want to see a shared space in your community, this is your guiding principle as you go through this project. Form follows function throughout this process.


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Summer Hess
11/Dec/2017

Type the word “innovation” into Google, and you’ll get nearly 7 million search results; it seems that all companies and entrepreneurs are striving to make it a part of their brands. And while new technologies are important, the unchecked stampede for innovation may be draining energy from the full application of existing innovation strategies—some of which come with 3.8 billion years of intelligence and design practice. Biomimicry distills life-sustaining patterns and strategies into a lens that can be applied to a diverse array of design challenges. Importantly, its primary requirement/constraint is that solutions be conducive to life. That means it cannot hide or mask externalities that actually drive up the true cost for pocket books, people, and the planet. Instead, it provides a framework for systems-level thinking that emphasizes interdependence and the emulation organizing principles that support the integrity whole system.


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Asheley Lovell, Ph. D.
04/Dec/2017

Nonprofits come in many shapes and sizes, but one thing they share in common is a desire to scale up their impact on the world. Collaboration has long been touted as the best way for nonprofits to scale up, but the actual practice of collaboration is often messy, making it hard to measure the impacts of these efforts. At The Alliance Center in Denver, CO (home to the headquarters for The Nonprofit Centers Network), over 50 nonprofit and for-profit organizations work under one roof. We are a mission-driven nonprofit with an event and collaborative working space which is dedicated to bringing people together to create a sustainable and inclusive future. As the operator of a collaborative working space, we strive to create a work environment that is inspiring, inviting, and that promotes constructive interactions between tenants. The Alliance Center recently underwent a brand realignment process to reconnect with our mission. As part of this process we changed the name of the organization from the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado to The Alliance Center. For many years, the building that houses the collaborative working spaces was named The Alliance Center while the nonprofit organization that managed the building and created programming was called the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado. This caused considerable confusion. While we are excited to have one name for all aspects of our work, changing our name to The Alliance Center is about a lot more than simplifying our moniker.


Kathy Lanni and Allison Schultz
29/Nov/2017

Nipper the DogWould the nonprofit community in upstate New York’s Capital Region be willing to try something new? This is the question we have been considering for some time. As partners on a number of initiatives targeting social and economic justice in our community, SEFCU and Siena College’s Center for Academic Community Engagement (ACE) have supported organizations that address the needs of poor and marginalized populations.

As we assessed the impact of this work, we began to question whether our current model might actually be a barrier to our goals—that is by providing safety net and capacity building support (financial and otherwise) are we thwarting the community-based collaborative efforts necessary to address the multiple needs in our region? It seems so—our traditional model encourages organizations to compete for funding instead of addressing community-wide problems of service duplication and gaps. We are not encouraging nonprofit professionals to consider together the overarching needs and assets of the community when formulating initiatives. This design cultivates an antagonistic environment where organizations have become increasingly distrustful of each other.

We began to explore whether a shared services/shared space model could lay the groundwork for the multi-organizational interventions crucial for community impact. The subsequent 2016 NCN Feasibility Study of Shared Services/Shared Space explored whether or not our community was open to collaborative initiatives bolstered through shared resources.

While the data showed nonprofit organizations were willing to collaborate on certain projects or initiatives. Many respondents suggested that this collaboration should begin “some time in the future”—possibly suggesting a time when said respondent no longer works at the organization. Additional data confirmed that there was distrust among community stakeholders, organizational parochialism, regional resistance to change, and critical funding concerns (from the findings of the 2016 NCN Shared Services Feasibility Study, Planning Committee Meeting, August 2016)

After analyzing these data, NCN recommended implementing a low stakes communications platform which could build trust and social capital among nonprofit professionals and community members, increase awareness of shared interests and the exchange of information, break down the barriers that have thwarted our community goals, and lay the groundwork for future collaborative efforts.

We have already seen progress in this effort. A team of NEXT Fellows has evaluated various online community platforms and selected one. They plan to implement a beta test in early 2018 with a group of early adopters and community ambassadors. The portal should be fully operational by the end of the Spring 2018 semester. SEFCU and ACE have been promoting this initiative in the community and our nonprofit partners are excited to participate. A NEXT team will continue to administer the platform for the upcoming year as we assess the model, develop and implement effective practices and policies, and market the portal to the nonprofit Capital Region Community.

*Statues of Nipper the RCA dog were placed on buildings all over northeast during the 1950s. The last remaining Nipper statue resides in Albany, NY. It is an iconic landmark in the NY Capital Region. Nipper the RCA Dog, License, Bill Morrow, No changes made

 


Organization: SEFCU

Website: www.sefcu.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sefcu/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SEFCU 


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Chelsea Donohoe
06/Nov/2017

Does shared space really matter? The data doesn’t lie!  The following facts draw from the 2015 State of the Shared Space Sector Survey. If you want more, you can download the report. So that we’re all on the same page, here is how NCN describes a “typical” nonprofit center: 35,000 sq ft facility, 250 people served weekly and $488,000 in revenue. These centers also have around 12 tenant organizations and 70 total employees. With that in mind, an overwhelming majority of organizations surveyed say they have improved services, seen significant cost savings, and can better achieve goals now that they are part of a shared space. Here are the biggest ways we found nonprofits are benefitting from this kind of collaboration.


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30/Oct/2017

“Mommy, I don’t want to lend Nicholas this toy because he might not give it back,” says my 4-year old the other day. Nicholas is just over one, so in some ways, my child might be deducting a logical conclusion. (See This American Life’s endearing Kid Logic episode.) He is learning that a toddler barely understands what sharing is, and we have to help teach him that. On the flip side, my son has had many sharing experiences where he does get his toy back. Still the idea of handing something over that is near and dear to him is a scary proposition. As much as us adults try to teach this to children, we must continually re-learn this aspect as well. It is something NCN actually talked about in our 2016 Event, Streamlining Social Good. And now we are spending a whole day in November focused on sharing AND innovation – another spooky term.


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