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21/Jun/2021

For those of us that already live shared space, it is easy to list the benefits for the residing nonprofits and their communities. For those pursuing the concept, you may still be in the process of shopping the idea around and convincing local funders about the variety of benefits: opportunities to increase collaboration, access to quality office and meeting space and basic shared services, a one-stop shop for services, advocacy, and/or community gatherings, and more. NCN was fortunate to have representatives from three foundations that “get it” as panelists on our most recent webinar, “Can Foundations Lead the Social Purpose Real Estate Movement?” All three foundations championed shared space in their community as an efficient and effective way to support nonprofits, human service organizations, small businesses, and ultimately, their community.


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03/Mar/2021

Moving forward with planning or developing a shared space during a pandemic is not as risky as it sounds. Shared space projects on average can take 3-5 years to come together, and it may also be a prime time for nonprofits to put down roots– literally, concrete foundations – to keep you grounded in your community for long term sustainability and impact. NCN is currently working with a repeat client on just that. Multiple organizations have been co-locating under 2 different roofs through leases supported by a foundation. After living and breathing shared space, and with demand from other nonprofits in the area, they are putting all options on the table for permanent space that encompasses a larger pool of nonprofits in one or more of the 3 main counties served.  We are just entering the demand phase of our feasibility study, but the energy about being together (in pre-COVID times) from current tenants in our opening Visioning Session was palpable, even over Zoom. Personally, one of my biggest takeaways was from an Executive Director who adamantly believes that nonprofits belong and should be treated equally to that of the local business community. They provide jobs and benefits and provide services that otherwise would be unmet. They deserve the same visibility.

Giving ourselves permission to be rooted in quality workspace can sometimes go against our scarcity mentality. But the time is ripe to claim our work that often meets and lifts up the marginalized peoples of our communities. Put a value on that and take up the space you (and your partners) are meant for.

Need help planning or developing your shared space? Contact Leena Waite, Consulting Coordinator for support at leena@nonprofitcenters.org.


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09/Sep/2019

Every now and then, we like to give folks a peek behind the curtain on what’s going on in the membership world. Afterall, we really don’t want NCN to be the best kept secret. So, what are people talking about? What information is being shared? Would you benefit from this community? The answers are “a lot” and “yes.”


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03/Jun/2019

It’s been a long winter in Denver…and yes, I know it’s June! But within my son’s last 2 weeks of school, it snowed at least 3 inches, and we received an epic middle of the night hail storm. My plants were already struggling to grow even before they were pummeled. But finally, the sun is peaking out, and it’s beginning to warm up. New growth is around the corner, and I can taste sandal weather. It seems nonprofits and local leaders are coming out of hibernation as well lately. NCN has seen quite the uptick of people inquiring about our services, joining our network, considering building spaces or wanting to learn more about shared services. What gives? Here is some of what we’ve been hearing lately:


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29/Apr/2019

Last week we gathered for another Ask-NCN Live member-only call to discuss evaluation.* Despite this being a requested topic, there was a tangible fear that kept people from submitting their questions on the registration form. But this is not new to NCN, and we don’t blame people! We purposely sought out an evaluation expert for NCN’s Evaluation Project 2 years ago and brought the same organization – Laura Sundstrom of Vantage Evaluation - in for our call. (These have always been member-only calls, but we knew this call would need some outside support!) We get it – who’s got the expertise, the time to execute, the human power to get it done and what do you do with the data once you’ve got it? Can we just stick to operating spaces and improving collaboration? Yes, you can. But it’s all connected. Evaluation is not just for reviewing what’s working or not working. It informs your next steps – your offerings to your tenants and your programming for future collaboration. So, I’m sorry to report that we should be doing this more. But, where do you start? Here are a few tips around what to focus on, how to do it, and how to advocate to your community and funders the importance of evaluation. What to focus on?


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15/Feb/2019

I may have lost some of you already with this title. Thanks to free online tools, it’s extremely easy to make and distribute surveys, which also means many surveys land in our own laps. We know many surveys out there gather important information. I mean, without surveys, we might not know that, “Individuals age 75 and over averaged 51 minutes of [leisurely] reading per day whereas individuals ages 15 to 44 read for an average of 10 minutes or less per day.”1 Which means, I better wrap this up quickly. But what about this statistic from 2013? “Nearly 70 percent of full time American workers hate sitting, yet 86 percent do it all day, every day…an average of 13 hours a day and sleeping an average of 8 hours resulting in a sedentary lifestyle of around 21 hours a day.”2 I think half of you just walked away from your computer. The article adds, “30 percent even responded that they would rather go without coffee for a week to stand.” Okay, this is a serious problem. Our NCN State of the Shared Space Sector Survey will be coming out shortly, and I’m sorry to say, it will involve some reading. And it will not be able to help you have less coffee or more exercise (unless you use a standing desk with a stair stepper.) Surveys about taking surveys tell me that only 30-40% of you will respond to us,3 but here are 5 reasons you should fill out ours:


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08/Jan/2019

what should be the ideal amount for a Building Reserve Fund? They charge $1 per square foot back to their tenants to contribute to this fund, but wondered if they should cease doing that if they reached a certain number in their reserves? This generated multiple responses on how to be financially prepared if, or really when, issues arise – because they will! So, whether you own your own building or are planning to purchase/build one, read on to see how those in our network are thinking ahead.


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14/Aug/2018

This is our final week of taking a trip down memory lane to our 2017 gathering, Sharing Innovation, as a way to get psyched for 2018’s event in October. Whether you missed last year or need a little convincing to attend this year (as if!?), check out the final of our four Sharing Innovation 2017 Blog Video Series below.  With two speakers each over last year’s themes of Technology for Collaboration, Adaptive Partnerships, Smart Growth and Sustainability, we’re certain you’ll walk away with not only some fresh innovative ideas, but also the desire to (re)connect with the NCN community this October!

We close with our final theme:

Theme: Sustainability

Applying Biomimicry Principals for Shared Space Innovation

Katy Sheehan and Summer Hess

Community Building, Spokane, WA

The Community Building Campus is a nonprofit center and small business incubator focused on fostering growth and measuring success outside of traditional metrics.

AC to DC Conversion

Sandy Vanderstoep

The Alliance Center, Denver, CO

The Alliance Center has served as a community working at all levels to create a more sustainable world. Now with the AC/DC Conversion project, the building itself will be a model for future commercial to reduce their energy consumption.

Did you miss the previous videos or need to review? Head here to catch all 8 presentations!


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29/May/2018

This week we dive back into our trip down memory lane to our 2017 gathering, Sharing Innovation, as a way to get psyched for 2018’s event in October. Whether you missed last year or need a little convincing to attend this year (as if!?), check out the second of our four Sharing Innovation 2017 Blog Video Series below.  With two speakers each over last year’s themes of Technology for Collaboration, Adaptive Partnerships, Smart Growth and Sustainability, we’re certain you’ll walk away with not only some fresh innovative ideas, but also the desire to (re)connect with the NCN community this October!

This week’s focus is:

Theme: Adaptive Partnerships

How can Nonprofit Centers Foster Catalytic Collaborations? Reflections from the OpenGov Hub

Nada Zohdy

OpenGov Hub, Washington D.C.

Zohdy describes a framework she helped develop to think about nonprofit collaboration (called “Catalytic Collaboration”), and how OpenGov Hub has put this into practice and what they are learning so far.

Transactional to Transformational – Building Trust to Strengthen a Community

Kathy Lanni and Allison Schultz

SEFCU and Siena College (Respectively), Albany, NY

A case study of how a funder and a university moved from a transactional relationship to a deeper transformational partnership to build trust among a competitive nonprofit community.


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21/May/2018

I love that NCN is a peer resourced community. We gain so much through our members sharing their experiences and knowledge with each other. Our new, member only Ask-NCN Live Zoom calls continue to build on that premise. In March, we focused on building buzz: what makes your space the place people want to be? The multiple employees representing seven organizations, from development stages to highly established, had lots to share - from clever nuggets to big picture. Here are some of those noteworthy takeaways. When groundbreaking is delayed, how do you communicate that things are still happening? Centre for Social Innovation talked about the pop-up space they had at their New York location before and during construction. This likely helped market the coming space and gave the community a taste of something to look forward to. Two spaces also gave tours or threw a mini party, with hard-hats as necessary, as soon as the space was safe to enter, but before completion. This produced some great photo-ops and having your Governor (John Hickenlooper) in the pic ain't bad either. Posner Center for International Development shared one of their marketing strategies: photos of what the space was before; for them it was a horse barn turned storage facility for horse-drawn carts and trailers. You can see some of these below.


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