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“Myths of Nonprofit Collaboration”

January 4, 2016 by Lara Jakubowski0

According to NCN’s 2015 State of the Sector Survey collaboration is a goal that most nonprofit shared space centers share, yet few feel they have achieved the level of collaboration among tenants that they expected.


For this reason, I found The Myths and Reality of Nonprofit Collaboration: Observations from Six Years in the Trenches by John MacIntosh, Partner, SeaChange Capital Partners and Lois Savage, President, The Lodestar Foundation interesting and relevant for our network.  Although this article deals with nonprofit collaboration outside of the colocation model, I think they highlight many issues that shared space centers face.

I especially loved Myth #4: Once partners have found one another, exploring collaboration is easy!  Anyone who runs a shared space center busted this myth long ago.  We hear over and over that “collaboration doesn’t just happen.”  Accidental collisions are great and water cooler conversations are wonderful openings for working together, but most shared spaces are looking for deeper connections and more substantive joint programming and efficiencies.

NCN’s work with the Collaboration Project, a cohort of 21 nonprofit shared space centers who are exploring collaboration among their tenants, has made me think about the lack of tools we have available for nonprofits to further define, measure and evaluate collaboration.  Through this project, we are working to identify next steps so that once nonprofits debunk Myth #4, they have an action plan to work through the hard parts, specifically in a colocation model.

What’s your experience with nonprofit collaboration been?  We’re interested in your tips for effective collaboration.  Share your comments here or email me at



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About Our Blogger:

Lara Jakubowski

Lara is the Executive Director at the Nonprofit Centers Network and has worked with nonprofits and their real estate projects for 18 years. Most recently she was the principal in LWJ Consulting LLC, a consulting practice that focused on shared space, shared services, business planning, facility planning and fundraising. Since 2006 she has worked with over forty Metro Denver nonprofits to evaluate and grow their impact in the community.

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