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The Jessie Ball DuPont Center in Jacksonville, Florida brought new life to the city’s former public library, a unique mid-century modern structure designed to diffuse sunlight, sustain winds up to 150 mph, and support the weight of hundreds of thousands of books. Abandoned in 2005, the building found new life as home to 12 nonprofits a few years later. The Jessie Ball DuPont Center has a mission of providing affordable office space to nonprofits, nurturing collaboration among tenants, and raising the visibility of the nonprofit sector in Jacksonville’s civic life. The center operates as a program-related investment for the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, who owns the building.  The Fund recognizes that the building will not have as great a return as some of its other investments, but they are choosing to create true community asset in downtown Jacksonville. See the Jessie Ball DuPont Center for yourself by checking out its online photo gallery.

Karen Hart

Having managed two very different youth focused not-for-profit centres (NFP Centres), one in the UK and one in Australia, for the past 15 years, I was inspired to seek out a better understanding of the critical success factors inherent in models that have performed well in their development and ongoing adaptability, within their local communities. Australia is slowly gaining momentum in the NFP Centre space and an Australian-American Fulbright Scholarship provided the opportunity for me to be based at the Nonprofit Centers Network (NCN), to explore ten of those centres in North America and Canada. Whilst this exploratory research revealed a burgeoning ecosystem of complex arrangements of social purpose real estate, elaborate funding and financing tapestries and interpersonal and professional multidisciplinary stakeholder relationships, driven by an array of missions and visions, the study highlighted clear and apparent themes throughout the NFP Centre’s. The shared experiences that arose out of the discursive interviews with the ten leaders of the NFP Centres provided a conceptual framework from which to create a set of organizing principles that seemed to offer an explanatory model that has utility and application, regardless of purpose, client population, demography and geography. As a result, the P-Model emerged and comprises three primary intersecting and integrated components of people,property and place, that coalesce to strengthen the purpose underpinning NFP Centre’s.

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Facilitating Energize: High Impact Shared Spaces in Philadelphia was the highlight of the month of April from me. It is rare that we have so many practitioners from all across the country in one room – the energy is amazing! As we planned the curriculum, we wanted to make sure that there was plenty of time for peer learning.

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Just back from an action-packed week in Philadelphia! We had a sold-out Energize training on Wednesday and the mix of long-standing centers and new projects was invigorating! On Thursday, we piloted Streamlining Social Good: Overcoming Barriers to Nonprofit Resource Sharing. A terrific group of speakers, moderated by Syon Bhanot of Swarthmore College, led us through lots of concepts nonprofits don’t usually contemplate. Here are my take-aways...

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When I’m traveling, I like to stop by and visit our members when I can. To date, I’ve visited 41 different nonprofit centers around the US and Canada – of course, Denver has a slew of shared spaces, so it’s easy to rack up the numbers. Most recently I was in Northern Kentucky, and I stopped by The Clearinghouse, cSpace, and The Plantory in an epic shared space road trip.

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I am intrigued by Andrew Stern’s article in the latest Stanford Social Innovation Review titled, No Exit The Case for Nonprofit Holding Companies. It dovetails with our upcoming event in Philadelphia, Streamlining Social Good on April 28th. Stern’s premise is that nonprofits often hit a wall after 5-10 years when fundraising becomes more difficult and leadership transitions abound. In the for-profit sector there is an efficient system for harnessing the value in such an organization – companies are acquired by larger companies and derive benefits from the additional resources these strategic mergers offer. They don’t have to get to scale on their own, as is presumed in the nonprofit sector: Grow, Change or Die! Nonprofits don’t have a similar way to pivot and still retain their value.

Saul Ettlin, Thoreau Center for Sustainability

There’s a lot of change brewing in the commercial real estate (CRE) world. From how we work to what a new generation of workers want from their workplace, these shifts are impacting the design and offerings of office space. Some of these trends are maturing (like the open plan) and new ones are coming on the scene (like hackable workspaces). What’s exciting is that much of the new thinking is aligned with the values that are already important to those of us who own and operate social purpose real estate and easily builds on our efforts to develop robust communities while providing affordable, quality workspace.

Mena Gainpaulsingh

Are you fundraising for an infrastructure, or umbrella organization, where your main activities centre around supporting other organizations to do their work? In a recent webinar for the Non-Profit Centres Network, I talked about some of the issues around raising funds for such organizations, and those that offer shared spaces in particular. Check out the challenges and solutions!

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