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Paul Evensen

Donors and co-locating agencies create projects in pursuit of more than one of six benefits. Typical combinations include the desire to both enhance access and to strengthen partnering agencies. The hope: to strengthen agencies that have a shared mission. The goal: simultaneously promoting sustainability and innovation. These are only the most common combinations. When done well, all real estate and location decisions are made with the intention of building community. However, the attempt to aid neighborhood development alone without careful consideration of the "mission benefit" of colocation first can have a profoundly negative consequence for non-profit organizations. At the inducement of neighborhood leaders, non-profits can feel compelled to move to locations that do not enhance their ability to deliver on mission. To borrow a phrase from the movie Field of Dreams - if we build a new community services center they will indeed come. Unfortunately, they may come for the wrong reasons and the project is likely to be unsustainable.

Nada Zohdy

A catalyst is something or someone that sparks, stimulates or accelerates a transformative change. And despite the many different roles we all play everyday in running nonprofit centers - from onboarding new members, to managing leases, to moderating public events and so much more - I believe our #1 job should be catalyzing community and collaboration. As catalysts, we should be constantly connecting people and resources to have outsized social impact working together than any one organization or party could working alone. So how can we get there?


Through collaboration and the development of formal and informal partnerships within the greater community, Heartwood House serves the residents of Ottawa who are marginalized, living in poverty, and/or in need of educational, mental health, emotional, physical, economic, employment, training or recreational support – Heartwood House provides an affordable, accessible workplace for small non-profit and charitable organizations to enable them to maximize their services through a mutually supportive hospitable and empowering environment for their clients and participants.

Our Member groups provide a wide range of services, information, networking and skill development opportunities to low income adults and families, new immigrants, people with differing abilities, people improving literacy or spoken English skills, people needing health and mental health supports, and people developing new employment, personal, or artistic skills.

What is one interesting fact about your space?

We strive to achieve positive community outcomes and earn revenues to support sustainability.
Heartwood House and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ottawa enjoy a highly successful partnership in the ownership of the property at 400-412 McArthur Avenue. Heartwood owns 87.5% and the Unitarians 12.5% of the building.

Heartwood House is also home to two other successful partnerships: the OC Transpo Lost & Found and the Everybody Wins! Electronics Recycling Program. Income generated is used to help support the work of the Heartwood community.

What are your favorite resources that you would recommend to others?

Our greatest resource is our Member groups. We are constantly looking for opportunities to share knowledge and expertise between one another so that we can learn from experience while being invested in sharing ideas.

We have learned that it takes intentional effort to build trust and community and that it takes time. By investing the time and energy there seems to be greater levels of engagement to share these resources and expertise. We are better together!

Center Name: Heartwood House

Location: Ontario, Canada

Center Website:

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“Open for you, and you and you…” is the tagline for one of our Canadian members, Community Door in Brampton, Ontario. It is a fitting message for so many of our centers (and centres!) across North America. A place where you can find healing for what ails you. A place that takes you in as you are and diligently works to keep you as safe as possible. This last statement was the theme that emerged from our first Live Ask-NCN Zoom call for members that was focused on Risk Management. I actually expected the conversation to steer more towards the somewhat dull, but necessary details of what it takes to manage a space, filling vacancies, collecting timely rent and more. Instead, improving safety was the top concern for most spaces. People wanted to know how best to communicate imminent dangers, how to report incidents, and how to keep communication lines open with tenants and community.  One member is witnessing the opioid epidemic first hand in their very welcoming and open community space. While their bathrooms provide an opportunity for someone off the street to clean up, other times it is a collection site for needles from their illicit substance usage.  All participants stressed the need, and struggle, for their space to be both open and safe. Here are the suggestions that emerged:

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The Rose Andom Center opened the summer of 2016, as the first Family Justice Center in the Rocky Mountain region, with a mission to improve the lives of domestic violence victims by facilitating better access to the services and staff of community organizations and government agencies in a single, safe location. The Rose Andom Center is named in honor of successful Denver entrepreneur and former McDonald’s franchise owner, Rose Andom.

The innovative model of the Rose Andom Center brings together 7 city and 13 community-based organizations in one building, representing the forward-thinking, collaborative approach to provide ‘best practice’ services to some of our most vulnerable citizens. The staff of partner organizations provide a wide array of services, including domestic violence advocacy and counseling, crisis intervention, civil legal support, services for children, law enforcement services, information regarding the criminal justice system, assistance with public benefits, housing resources, and referrals for job readiness and job search assistance.

What is one interesting fact about your space?

In 2017, the Rose Andom Center was honored to receive a Downtown Denver Partnership Award, given to businesses that have made significant contributions toward creating a unique, vibrant, and diverse Downtown environment, and have left a lasting, positive impact on Downtown Denver. Since opening, we have had over 3,300 victims and 900 children come into the Rose Andom Center to access multiple services from our partner agencies. The building underwent a comprehensive renovation to provide a warm, welcoming, safe environment for the clients and to promote collaborative work among the partners. A centralized “nest” area provides comfortable interview rooms for private conversations with clients, as well as an open great room and kitchen for their use, and a playroom for the children to enjoy while their parent meets with service providers. The playroom includes a custom wall-sized Light Bright Wall, enjoyed by all who visit the Rose Andom Center!

What are your favorite resources that you would recommend to others?

Working with the Nonprofit Centers Network, Denver Shared Spaces and Oz Architects helped ensure we could think through our goals in developing the best shared space possible, that would meet our mission and be of benefit to our clients!

Center Name: Rose Andom Center

Location: Denver, CO

Center Website:

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Paul Evensen

As we worked to create a regional framework for Social Purpose Real Estate and non-profit colocation in St Louis we looked to the considerable experience of the 400+ non-profit centers in the U.S. and Canada that have preceded us. Our review of this experience suggests that we could gain six specific benefits (Table 1) from creating non-profit centers. 1. Co-locating non-profits can enhance access to services by integrating services and putting them together in one shared location. The measurable outcomes might be increased use of services, easier access for constituents, and the establishment of a continuum of care. 2. Co-locating non-profits can lower costs by sharing “back of house” supports such as accounting, human resources, and risk management. Further, reduced turnover and the benefit from being near other organizational directors and program administrators could contribute to the bottom line. The measurable outcomes could be increased operational strength and efficiency, lower costs, and better managed organizations. These benefits may be particularly valued by smaller non-profit organizations or by newer ones seeking to establish effective systems.

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For most nonprofits, office space is the second largest expense, after personnel costs. Most of the time we make do with what we can get our hands on – working out of our living rooms or a donated church basement. Too often, we let our office space work against us instead of for us!

You may be fighting your office instead of fighting for your cause if in the past year, you have

  • Had to reschedule a meeting with a community member to deal with a flood in your program space
  • Wrapped up in blankets to stay warm since your furnace couldn’t keep up while typing up your latest appeal letter.
  • Spent time shoveling the walk instead of filing grant reports
  • Lost connection to the internet and your cloud-based file storage because of old wiring

I challenge you to keep track of how much time you spend fighting with your office the next week. I think you’ll be surprised. You can also take it a step further and multiply that by your hourly salary to figure out how much your space costs your organization each week. If time is money, your board may be interested to see how much your “free” or “cheap” office space really costs.

What should you be paying for office space anyway? (Here’s a clue: the answer isn’t $0.) For a quick estimate, do this math: multiply 250 sq. ft. per person times the per square foot lease rate for Class B office space. You can find the average per square foot by searching for real estate market reports in your region (typically made public by major real estate firms like CBRE or Cushman Wakefield). For example, since NCN has two staff in Denver, we should be paying $11,595 per year. (Depending on the local custom, you might be given the square footage cost by the month, so pay attention and adjust accordingly.) You’ll still need to budget for utilities, internet, cleaning, security, etc., and more.

Sharing space allows us to achieve several thousand dollars in cost savings every year – not to mention the time of managing the internet, cleaning the office, keeping the printer up and running, and more! Think you might be up for running a shared space? Check out Virtual Nonprofit Centers Boot Camp today!

Paul Evensen

On April 18, 2017 more than 100 community leaders gathered at the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis to advance a regional strategy for social purpose real estate (SPRE). Representatives from banking, community development, philanthropy, non-profit administration, government, and academia listened to national thought leaders, studied case examples, and reviewed the emerging landscape of projects in the St Louis region. Principles to guide SPRE and non-profit center development were identified through facilitated small group discussion. A consensus process across six teams resulted in adoption of the values and descriptions provided here. We share them with our peers across the nation in hopes of gaining feedback and to learn more about how other regions are holding themselves accountable to shared values as they implement social purpose real estate and non-profit colocation strategies.

Jenny Camhi

The Hive is a coworking and events center where we build a stronger, more connected community. Inspired by Jewish wisdom and our natural and farmy surroundings, we provide a thriving environment for social entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and local community organizations to work, meet, and grow in a unique environment. Our goal is to become a model for community collaboration and to promote creative Jewish expression, both at home in Encinitas, San Diego, California, and around the world. The Hive offers robust monthly professional development programs to service our local nonprofit community from a range of topics including: board management, public speaking, emotional intelligence, strengths based leadership, fundraising, and grant writing to name a few! In addition, The Hive offers arts and cultural programming for creative Jewish expression and exploration. These programs include: theatre performances, meditation workshop, art galleries, and holiday celebrations. Collaboration, connection, and learning all with an ocean view!

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It’s a new year! Time to get into shape! No, I’m not here to harass you on how well your New Year’s resolution towards good health is going, or if you’ve already given up on it. (You can do it!) I’m here to help your nonprofit get its plan about sharing space into shape, so you can present your best self to your community. This year, we're bringing you a different kind of Boot Camp, that's making it super easy and cost effective to learn about nonprofit shared space with Virtual Nonprofit Centers Boot Camp. You can get in shape on your own (in your pjs) over 2 months or with your colleagues (maybe not in your pjs) over 6 months, starting whenever you register. Make this year the year you dive into the idea that you, your board, or community has been thinking about: getting serious about shared space. Here are just a few ways Virtual Nonprofit Centers Boot Camp will get you and your team there:

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