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07/Aug/2017

Sometimes it can be hard to explain everything that takes place within a shared nonprofit space – sometimes you just have to see it! Check out these videos that our members have created to show off their amazing spaces.

ReCity Network, Durham, NC

 


 

The Flight Deck, Oakland, CA

What could happen OVERNIGHT? from Ragged Wing Ensemble on Vimeo.

 


 

Langs Community Centre, Cambridge, ON


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02/Aug/2017

When you provide shared space or back office services for nonprofits it can be a challenge to explain what exactly it is that you do. This was the focus of NCN’s virtual Community of Practice last week. Honing our message is a continual work in progress. For many years, we’ve included Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” TED Talk in our Nonprofit Centers Boot Camp Curriculum. While providing affordable space for nonprofits is a noble endeavor, most of us are in this field for a greater purpose. Sinek argues that if you can articulate the “Why” behind the “What” that you do, you will be more success and convincing people to support your cause. Another tool that I have found to be incredibly useful is Mission Minded’s Minute Messaging Model, which was recently featured on their blog. Mission Minded asks people to develop a series of timed stories about their mission:


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17/Jul/2017

I was recently traveling for my Summer vacation. When I would come across new people and tell them about my work at The Nonprofit Centers Network, I got the typical mix of responses that I’ve come to expect. They range from, “Wow! Sharing space and resources makes so much sense for the nonprofit sector,” to the confused “That’s nice, but what do you really do?” Then there was a conversation with a woman that caught me by surprise.   From the way she reacted, I knew immediately that she was one of those who “got it” right away. Towards the end of our conversation, she asked me, “What can I do to support this idea? I don’t run a nonprofit organization, and I’m not a philanthropist.”  Here are some of the tips I shared (and some I wish I had thought of at the time!):


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19/Jun/2017

I’ve been reflecting on the biggest lessons I’ve learned about mission-driven shared spaces. Here’s what I would tell someone new to the field. #1 – Find the Bullseye – Nonprofit centers that have a very clear goal that resonates with the community tend to be more successful. A clear goal allows the center to brand itself and communicates the value of locating there. They can build a quicker buzz than a center with a more generic focus. Tenants understand the benefits of co-locating and clients and community members know where to access resources. NCN’s survey data has shown that centers tend to be more financially sustainable when they are organized around a specific theme or goal. #2 – Get a Backbone – Start-up nonprofit centers are more successful when there is a project manager to shepherd the project through development. Many groups try to build their centers by committee, which can seem more financially responsible, but in my experience, hiring someone to champion the project, schedule meetings, follow up on to-do lists and monitor the budget is the better option.


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05/Jun/2017

When we work with nonprofits, we typically ask how much space they have currently and how much they’re looking for. Usually, the numbers only go up, but so much about the millennial workforce is changing how we interact with our workspace. When you’re thinking about moving or finding office space, don’t use your current space as the baseline – think outside the box. Let form follow function. What will be done in the space? Office work and data processing? Or will you be running child care programs? Counseling clients? Different uses require different amounts of space.


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Kim McNamer
22/May/2017

I was recently working with NCN on a feasibility study and was asked to look into 1st floor retail options in a shared space environment. While I didn’t have experience with this when working at Deschutes Children’s Foundation, I have always thought the idea of having some retail in a shared space center could be beneficial particularly in regards to an additional revenue stream.


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01/May/2017

Thousands of foundations expend dollars each year on offices for their staff. What would occur if each one envisioned its physical facility as a civic space – a place for itself, its grantees and its community? What would such spaces look like? Fortunately, we find the answer to these questions in the stories of the 17 foundations described in this timely and important publication, Planting a Seed: Foundations Build Community with Shared Workspace. To borrow a phrase from John Elkington, a leader in the field of corporate global responsibility, each featured foundation has embraced a ‘triple bottom line’ approach to the design and operation of their facilities. They are creating economic, community and environmental benefits for a broad array of stakeholders. In the economic realm, building projects become investments, create long-term savings, and can create employment opportunities for residents and support local businesses. In the community realm, foundations showcase the work of their grantees, host conference centers and provide quality office space for nonprofit organizations. In the green or sustainability realm, they model energy efficiency and the use of sustainable materials to create healthy places. In addition, these facilities demonstrate how other foundations can use workspace to vividly embody their values and mission. As reported in a recent Foundation Center publication, More Than Grantmaking: A First Look at Foundations’ Direct Charitable Activities, many foundations are finding new ways to augment their grantmaking to advance their respective missions. In the report, one-quarter of the surveyed independent and family foundations now conduct such direct charitable activities, such as:


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24/Apr/2017

NCN started 2017 by kicking off the Evaluation Project, a peer learning opportunity we created with Elena Harman and Laura Sundstrom of Vantage Evaluation. Ten centers are participating in this 9-month process to understand how to approach impact measurement in a rigorous way. Each center will be supported as they complete their own evaluation. This is the first of a series of blogs on what we are learning through this critical process of making the case for shared space. The advantages to the approach we are using are twofold: first, the centers are essentially sharing the cost of an evaluation professional who would have cost them many times more if they contracted individually; secondly, by working in parallel, the centers are “speed” learning what works in various settings since they can see what their peers are trying and apply those lessons in their center. We have a great mix of centers: large, small, new and seasoned. We have some centers who are focused on a specific theme or issue area and some that are more general in terms of the types of tenants they house. This has helped us learn more about how different types of centers approach evaluation, why they want to do it and what kinds of information they are seeking.


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