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14/Nov/2022

The swirl of opinions about the pandemic’s impact on the state of commercial real estate and how that intersects with the outlook on nonprofit centers continues. Some reports are that workers are already back in their offices at near pre-pandemic levels and have been for the better part of a year, at least in small and mid-sized cities. Another report out of San Francisco recently warned that the city’s status as a commercial real estate investor’s dream hasn’t yet found its post-COVID footing as office buildings are pulled off the market after fetching lower than expected bids. From NCN’s perspective, some NCN members report lingering vacancies, but our consulting pipeline is currently full of groups creating new nonprofit centers in their communities.


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As we transition into fall, NCN members at our recent fall Regional Chapter Roundtables shared changes that are happening not only with the season, but also changes with their centers and their organizations. In the fall, the chapters focused mostly on the topic of finance, and it’s always nice to hear of new innovations and ideas as we continue this important work. Below are a few innovations that we wanted to highlight for this season:

5 tips from NCN Fall Regional Chapter Roundtables:

1. Consider new ways to meet conference room and meeting space demand

Meeting and conference space demand seems to be rising across the board. Some members asked: “How can that be a source of revenue? Are there meeting room memberships or other models that make sense?”

2. Take a sabbatical
Mission driven work is critical for our communities, but it’s important to give ourselves and our teams time to recharge. One member shared their policy of encouraged staff sabbaticals, and after hearing about their amazing trip, we hope all centers can implement a similar policy!

3. Build in rising utility costs
We heard that utility costs seem to be rising for centers, especially in certain regions. Whether you have a standard % increase annually, or true-up at the end of the year, you might consider how to build that in to your budget more carefully this year.

4. Evaluate tenant participation
We all know that tenants add a lot more to centers than their financial contribution. If tenants are paying rent, but aren’t coming into the office, are they taking the place of other organizations who might contribute more to the vibrancy of the center? Some centers are starting to have these conversations to think of creative ways to reevaluate tenant contributions and participation.

5. Build trust with two-sided transparency and financials
One member suggested that as a landlord, they have build trust with tenants and have a stronger reciprocal relationship by being more open with their financials and by having two-sided transparency.


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The swirl of opinions about the pandemic’s impact on the state of commercial real estate and how that intersects with the outlook on nonprofit centers continues. Some reports are that workers are already back in their offices at near pre-pandemic levels and have been for the better part of a year, at least in small and mid-sized cities. Another report out of San Francisco recently warned that the city’s status as a commercial real estate investor’s dream hasn’t yet found its post-COVID footing as office buildings are pulled off the market after fetching lower than expected bids. From NCN’s perspective, some NCN members report lingering vacancies, but our consulting pipeline is currently full of groups creating new nonprofit centers in their communities.


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The Alliance Center exists to bring people together to solve systemic problems. We are a mission-driven coworking space, event venue and nonprofit located in downtown Denver. Our 40,000 square foot LEED Platinum building is home to almost 40 organizations working to create a more sustainable and equitable world. In addition to our physical coworking space, we also formed the Regenerative Recovery Coalition, a cross-sector collaboration working to create shared prosperity on a healthy planet. Our 380+ members drive action by working directly with key decision makers, amplifying each other’s work and implementing regenerative projects.


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The Clearinghouse Project began in 2007 and now is a collaboration of over 100 Partners working to provide economic benefit to southeastern Indiana. The Clearinghouse is a multi-tenant facility where workforce development entities and agencies providing short-term assistance live and work under one roof. The goals of the Clearinghouse Partners are to help low-income families or families living in poverty make a positive, sustainable change in their lives and decrease their overall demand for assistance by enabling them to become self-sufficient.


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NCN recently hosted our summer Regional Chapter Roundtables across the US and Canada. Every time I attend these Roundtables, I'm reminded of the incredible impact our members have across North America. The incredible work our centers in operation and centers in development are doing, the incredible teams and tenants they serve, and the incredible solidarity and support they show their fellow NCN members by sharing ideas. In the spirit of sharing, below are a few of the great ideas for centers that we heard.


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Jackie Cefola (she/her) is a self-employed and intentionally part-time consultant who helps nonprofit leaders to start up shared spaces and shared back-office services. She provides research, planning, facilitation, and strategic guidance to move collaborative projects forward. She also serves as a neutral third party, gathering information, actively listening to partners, and suggesting strategies to address challenges.


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