This month NCN is kicking off the Colorado Nonprofit Space Survey with our partners at Denver Shared Spaces and Mile High Community Loan Fund. Our goal is to gather data on nonprofit space usage and costs to inform nonprofit leaders, policy-makers and philanthropic funders. We know that occupancy costs are usually the second largest line item for nonprofits after personnel, but nonprofit professionals often have little market information about how to make smart real estate decisions.
We decided to do this survey when we realized there had been no data collected on this topic in the Denver area since 2001. Unfortunately, I think this may be the case for most cities and states and provinces as well. It’s too bad because we know from our work on needs assessments for shared space centers that nonprofits often have specialized needs that aren’t always met in the market. Having a comprehensive data set also helps organizations who want to start a shared space assess what potential tenants need and currently pay for space.
Our survey asks about capital campaign plans among nonprofits. This is critical for capital funders to be aware of so they can allocate resources appropriately. Also, the public sector will be interested in this survey because nonprofits are often the main service delivery channels for programs to under-served populations and need to locate in specific areas but can be priced out in some markets.
Our preliminary results are showing a shift from nonprofits owning real estate to renting. This, despite the fact that over half of our nonprofits surveyed to date have also indicated that their leases are expiring in the next year while rental rates are at least 50% higher than what nonprofits report they are currently paying.
If you think your region would benefit from a similar survey of nonprofits and their space usage, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can tailor our survey to the needs of your community and help you better understand the real estate environment in which you operate.