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5 Things We Can Learn From For-Profit Shared Spaces

February 1, 2016 by Lara Jakubowski0

It’s All Business was our theme in January.  Our webinar on January 21st with Laura Kozelouzek of Quest Workspaces helped us understand the way for-profit operators view shared space.  Executive suites and business centers are the precursors in many ways of mission-driven shared spaces and coworking spaces.  We need to learn more about what drives their success and what pitfalls they’ve discovered so we don’t repeat them.

I thought it was interesting to hear the metrics that the for-profit world has established around shared space:

  1. They aim for no less than 50% revenue generating total square footage.
    Think about your common space – is it the right amount?
  2. Focus on 100% occupancy before looking to other revenue generating areas.
    Before opening a special event rental space, make sure you are fully leased!
  3. Attention to your tenants/members is key; shared space is a customer service business!  In the nonprofit world we tend to multi-task but to make shared space successful you have to attend to your tenants.
  4. Optimize your floorplan.  At Quest, their largest offices are 200 square feet.
    Are there ways to economize without impacting your tenant experience?
  5. Make connections for your tenants.  For-profits make sure that Community Animators/Managers can dedicate at least half of their time to talking to tenants/members, addressing concerns and identifying ways they can support their businesses.Again, undertaking a social enterprise like a nonprofit shared space center requires dedicating sufficient time to help your tenants make connections and collaborate.  It doesn’t happen on its own in the for-profit world, nor in the nonprofit world!

Nonprofit shared spaces don’t need to optimize profits for shareholders, the way for-profits do, but nonprofits need to be financially sustainable.  Nonprofit shared space centers need resources to cover operating costs, staffing, programming and collaboration activities.  We can learn a great deal from how for-profits have evolved and how they run their businesses.

Who are the for-profit operators in your area?  Have you reached out to compare notes?  Could you make cross-referrals?  I think there is much we can learn from our counterparts on the for-profit side and also much they can learn from us.


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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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