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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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20/Mar/2017

The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, the owner and operator of the Alliance Center, undertook a four-year “transformation” project of the 41,000 square feet building, constructed in 1908. In 2010, the five-story brick building, a former warehouse, was configured in a traditional, private suite layout that had little natural light and limited space for gatherings or collaboration. The renovation sought both to “create a cost-effective, high-performing building model” as well as to identify a replicable approach that could be applied to other commercial offices and historic buildings.


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Arts Estuary 1024 is a multi-tenant arts facility in a renovated historic building. The center is located at 1024 Elysian Fields Avenue in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans on the edge of the St. Claude Avenue Arts District. Arts Estuary 1024 supports a collaborative environment that fosters the growth and development of individuals and organizations dedicated to the creative arts and community engagement. The facility is primarily used as administrative space for local cultural organizations but can also accommodate meetings, gatherings, rehearsals, receptions, and events.


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Denver, CO 80202

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