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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.



Last month, NCN launched our Regional Chapters meetups with 10 chapters across the US and Canada. The theme that I heard over and over again in this first meetup - community. At the most basic level, the Nonprofit Centers Network is a community of people who envision a world where every nonprofit has access to a quality workspace and quality infrastructure to deliver on their mission. In our 10 Regional Chapter launches, I saw 10 different regional communities start to come together to learn from each other, and share how they create and support their own communities in their nonprofit centers.


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Jackie Cefola, principal of Jackie Cefola Consulting and Andrea Shapiro, principal of Andrea Shapiro Consulting
19/Apr/2021

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing our understanding of the workplace. As nonprofit centers and their tenant organizations prepare to reopen for in-person operations, there will be many new health and safety protocols to implement. There may also be opportunities for workers to continue virtual work arrangements or flexible scheduling, reducing workspace density. These strategies have potential to vastly impact nonprofit center and tenant facilities, operations, workspaces, and cultures now and in the long-term. This is a very complex situation to plan for but as advisors to organizations considering new workplace strategies, we suggest that the place to start is to proactively seek feedback from staff to better understand, from their point of view, what will be needed to support a workplace that is safe, healthy, comfortable, and productive.


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Lexi Paza, Co-Director
24/Mar/2021

Our friends at the Northern California Grantmakers (NCG) recently published a report on COVID19 impacts on nonprofit real estate. The report is a part of NCG’s effort to understand and address nonprofit displacement in the San Francisco Bay Area and was done in partnership with Harder+Company Community Research. The Bay Area’s pandemic shelter-in-place order, issued almost exactly one year ago, was one of the first issued as well as the most stringent in the country. This makes the pandemic’s economic consequences on Bay Area nonprofits and their ability to sustain mission-enhancing workspaces particularly compelling.


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Lexi Paza, Co-Director
10/Mar/2021

For those of us running a nonprofit center, the myriad daily decisions -- troubleshooting HVAC issues, managing tenant improvement projects, determining where to store all that hand sanitizer -- can seemingly occupy our whole brains. It’s easy to forget that we’re part of a movement: a movement of social purpose real estate. Social purpose real estate, or SPRE, is broadly defined as spaces that serve the common good such as public parks, affordable housing, libraries, museums, and, of course, community-serving workspaces, i.e., nonprofit centers. At NCN we’ve recently been refocusing ourselves on this movement.


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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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Lexi Paza, Co-Director
22/Feb/2021

Around every corner seems to be another opinion on the future of workspace. The sector is certainly ripe for speculation, given that commercial real estate continues to be one of the most impacted industries of the pandemic. As I've consumed article after article, some themes have emerged. First, many workers will choose not to (or cannot, because of transit or childcare) return to offices in dense urban cores, at least not every day and not anytime soon. This is mostly linked to shifts in priorities around affordability and quality of life, especially among workers 25 to 40. Companies that can employ a hybrid model wherein some employees work in the metropolitan headquarters while others are based out of smaller satellite offices in lower-density geographies -- but all with some work-from-home flexibility -- will likely do just that. Next, workspaces must prioritize human connection, physical health/safety, and shared values, three critically important elements of our 2020 experience, to attract workers who will now have a choice on where and when to work.  Buildings will need to offer dynamic meeting spaces that blend the physical and the digital alongside demised private spaces that provide a safe and quiet environment for focusing in ways that can rarely be achieved in most of our homes.  And, finally, a hope of my own: in an era when our collective social consciousness has grown in unimaginable ways and seemingly every company on the planet is regularly issuing statements about values, now is the time for our workplaces to also have a conscience.


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Elizabeth O'Brien
21/Sep/2020

At the beginning of last week, we came together for one of our Ask-NCN Live member-only calls to discuss pivoting during the pandemic.* We had quite a positive response and were energized by how many members took this opportunity to participate, learn from each other, and collaborate across the network. These past six months of the pandemic have been difficult in so many ways and at NCN, we are so impressed with the incredible resilience, creativity, and grace shown by our members during this time. It was inspiring to hear what innovative ideas different centers have used to address the unique needs and challenges of the pandemic, and how they think those innovative ideas could be used in the future. Here a few common challenges that have come up during this time, and a few tips about how to handle these challenges.


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The Nonprofit Centers Network has an active listserv as part of its membership. As various cities or states across US and Canada enacted shelter in place type orders, center managers started chiming in with questions and steps taken, and together our community began to navigate this unprecedented time.  It became clear that it was time to take this discussion into a webinar format and open it up to a wider community, not just members. So on April 3rd, NCN hosted a panel discussion style webinar around Managing Shared Spaces During COVID-19 addressing concerns around financial sustainability, the logistics of an empty building and maintaining community. NCN’s new Co-Directors Alexis Paza and David Schrayer joined Saul Ettlin of Community Vision and NCN’s Steering Committee to dive into these topics, guided by pre-submitted questions and the listserv discussions. Below is a summary of NCNs suggestions around these topics, including tips shared in the chat box from some of our 80 participants.


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Chelsea Donohoe
01/Oct/2019

Are you curious about the latest strategies in nonprofit shared space? Would you like to read a “how to” guide developed by respected experts in the field? Check out the award-winning book Shared Space and the New Nonprofit Workplace. It’s not just our team that thinks the book is spectacular – we’ve read it cover to cover. The book has won the prestigious 2019 Terry McAdam Book Award for the best nonprofit book of the year. Here’s a little more info…


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