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Jackie Cefola Director, Consulting and Shared Services
01/Apr/2019

This week the Nonprofit Centers Network team is busy preparing for the publication of Rethinking Overhead, our new resource for nonprofit leaders who want to share services. What are shared services? At the Nonprofit Centers Network, we describe shared services as being developed by two or more nonprofit organizations that collaborate to jointly access the time and expertise of contractors, employees or fiscal sponsors to create positive impacts for their operations and their communities. This might be overkill but I’d like to take some time to break this down.


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Jennifer Pedroni
26/Mar/2019

Was it just yesterday or a lifetime ago, the moment we cut the ribbon at the Community Partners Center in Colmar, PA? Suddenly, the building was complete, and the operating had begun. I have been spending some time reflecting on those transitional moments when a shift in mindset is required. I’m in one of those now. I recently left my long-time position operating a foundation and a nonprofit center to join Fiscal Management Associates (FMA) – a national consulting firm that builds the financial strength of nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. My transition from an internal operations position to an external consultant required a shift in mindset – just as the change from building a center to operating a center requires a new perspective, new skills and a resilience-focused mindset.


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Bronson Centre is a 45,000 ft2 community facility, nestled into the heart of downtown Ottawa, the capital of Canada. We have up to 40 permanent, not-for-profit tenants, resident in our building at any one time. On a day rental basis we have served 100’s of associations and cultural groups for almost 25 years. Our charity was founded in 1996, the same year that we were invited to re-purpose the use of an old high school. As a solid, revenue positive organization (and wholesome example of a healthy social enterprise !) we purchased the building in 2017. Our commitment is to enhance and strengthen our role as a dynamic shared space facility for the next 25 years. Our core mission is to provide affordable rents and administrative and cultural hub services to those who in turn serve the needy, the poor, and arts and cultural communities of our region.


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11/Mar/2019

Infrastructure matters. It’s the tools and structures that magnify our productivity. Think about the speed at which you type an article on a computer versus writing it with pen and paper. In the for-profit world, the quality of your infrastructure impacts your ability to make money. Office spaces is worth investing in, because it helps your employees be more productive, legitimizes your presence, and encourages people to buy your products. Time intensive systems get automated or replaced, so a business owner can use their time in a way that maximizes revenue. Productivity is measured in ROI. In the nonprofit world, it is more complicated. Resources are limited, and its much more difficult to measure the impact of our work. It’s about how lives are impacted over years, not sales that take place in seconds. But just like in the for-profit world, systems can have an impact on the bottom line - the triple bottom line. How a nonprofit sets up its infrastructure (space, systems, employment practices, and more) can strengthen or weaken an organization’s impact on its mission.


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Chelsea Donahoe
04/Mar/2019

You might not have heard yet, but NCN is developing ANOTHER amazing resource. Our main goal is to identify and analyze current human services one stop center models and practices that elevate the service experience for clients. Over the past couple months, I’ve been interviewing A LOT of folks at human services centers. The first question I ask in these interviews is: Does your center identify as a one-stop human services center? While some answer with an emphatic “YES! A THOUSAND TIMES, YES!” (or maybe just a simple “Yes”), many answers go something like this… “Well...maybe?” “Wait…what do you mean by that?” “I call it that in conversation…but not formally.” And every interviewer’s personal favorite: “Hmmmmm…*LONG PAUSE*” I know it may seem like I’m complaining about these answers, but I’m not. I promise! Since this question is so hard to answer, it tells me that there is a significant level of confusion about the topic. That is why part of this research will be to determine what exactly we mean by the term “one stop human services center.” And, what is that definition you ask? Don’t worry. It will be in the Strengthening the Safety Net report.


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Jackie Cefola Director, Consulting and Shared Services
25/Feb/2019

I admit it. I recently watched an episode of “Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo’s new reality series about home organizing and I found it compelling. Participants sorted through all of their belongings to recognize and focus on what they truly loved and get rid of the rest.I wonder about applying this strategy at work. What would work feel like if we were able to focus more time and attention on the tasks that spark joy, the tasks that relate to our missions?For myself at the Nonprofit Centers Network, I recognize that what really floats my boat is working with organizations and communities interested in sharing space, services, time, and knowledge. I see how these innovative strategies allow organizations to access necessary resources, run more efficiently, be more impactful, and develop a greater focus on mission. Conversely, what sparks my anxiety is bookkeeping.


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The 7 Corners Collaborative Building opened in 2018, and is now serving as a hub for services for individuals experiencing disability. The building is owned by Community Vision and serves as its headquarters. However, there are five other nonprofits that provide an array of services to the disability community - ensuring that visitors to the building will leave with more information and resources than when they entered. The 7CCB was also designed using the principles of Universal Design, creating a the most barrier-free space possible.


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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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04/Feb/2019

I’m going to be bold and say that connectivity between organizations is more important in the nonprofit sector than in any other industry. Why? Because the issues we work on are so immensely complex. Whether you're working homelessness or hunger, arts education or workforce development, international poverty alleviation or climate change, the causes of human behavior are connected to something upstream.  Our work is difficult. Every day, nonprofit leaders advocate for issues, deal with trauma, and handle complicated funding streams. Human beings have a bias for the status quo, and especially when resources are limited, it’s hard to change behavior, even if we’re convinced it will pay dividends.  I remember working in a development team early in my career where I often sacrificed opportunities to network and build connections because it wasn’t part of our culture.


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Carlie Kuban and Pat Smith
30/Jan/2019

December 20th, 2018 marked the culmination of 21 months of effort for Serve Denton and three of our partner agencies: Health Services of North Texas, Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County and Denton Community Food Center. We closed on a $9.5 million deal through the New Markets Tax Credit program that will enable each agency to accomplish strategic goals that may never have been achieved by the organizations working independently. Health Services of North Texas (HSNT) will have a full-service clinic with a pharmacy in the zip code where most of its patients reside. Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County (CACDC) will triple the size of its Denton office and collocate with law enforcement—a similar setup to its Lewisville center. Denton Community Food Center (DCFC) will triple the size of its space while improving its intake and service delivery methods. Brené Brown, in her book Dare to Lead, defines a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas and dares to develop that potential.  She makes the point that when we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We know that power grows when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when necessary to do good work.


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