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Chelsea Donohoe
13/May/2019

It’s Time to Register for Sharing Innovation 2019! It’s time to register for the third annual Sharing Innovation event! (Don’t miss the best registration rate! Early bird discounted registration ends Friday, August 30th). We are ecstatic at NCN about this gathering. It has continued to grow each year, and we are even more impressed with the groundbreaking collaboration happening all over the US and Canada. Every day, more groups are creating shared spaces and shared services to enable organizations to realign how they use resources to tackle the biggest challenges in their communities. No matter the size or scope of your organization, our speakers will have relevant, actionable advice and creative strategies for sharing. Sharing Innovation is a different type of NCN gathering. It’s a time to amplify ideas, dream big, and discuss what’s possible. You will hear from our network about the increased efficiency and effectiveness folks are experiencing from sharing space and other resources. We sought out speakers who are using infrastructure to achieve impact, and we wanted to hear how they are shaping their communities through collaborative, place-based initiatives.


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Jackie Cefola Director, Consulting and Shared Services
07/May/2019

The Nonprofit Centers Network is happy to announce the Upcoming release Rethinking Overhead: Daring to Share Resources Preview, a new on-line publication designed to help you consider why shared back office services could be fit for your organization.* Why are we asking you to think about shared services? As a sector, we need innovative strategies that support nonprofit organizations to access essential overhead services. As nonprofit center developers and operators, we understand the power of collaboration and the potential for shared services to add value to shared spaces. As organizational leaders, we know that our operations gain strength and resiliency through high-quality back office services. And as mission-based practitioners, we want to focus our time and effort on mission-based activities. Sure, this all sounds great in theory but what are the real reasons why organizations participate in shared services? To answer this question, the NCN team asked the leaders of 12 organizations (six service providers and six clients/partners/members/projects) to tell us their shared services stories.


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29/Apr/2019

Last week we gathered for another Ask-NCN Live member-only call to discuss evaluation.* Despite this being a requested topic, there was a tangible fear that kept people from submitting their questions on the registration form. But this is not new to NCN, and we don’t blame people! We purposely sought out an evaluation expert for NCN’s Evaluation Project 2 years ago and brought the same organization – Laura Sundstrom of Vantage Evaluation - in for our call. (These have always been member-only calls, but we knew this call would need some outside support!) We get it – who’s got the expertise, the time to execute, the human power to get it done and what do you do with the data once you’ve got it? Can we just stick to operating spaces and improving collaboration? Yes, you can. But it’s all connected. Evaluation is not just for reviewing what’s working or not working. It informs your next steps – your offerings to your tenants and your programming for future collaboration. So, I’m sorry to report that we should be doing this more. But, where do you start? Here are a few tips around what to focus on, how to do it, and how to advocate to your community and funders the importance of evaluation. What to focus on?


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Chelsea Donahoe
08/Apr/2019

We host Ask-NCN Live video calls to build our community and give another opportunity for shared problem solving. Before the webinar, members submit questions to guide the conversation. Unlike our Ask-NCN forum, attendees get instant feedback from peers. We find that our members are excited to share their expertise whether it’s their successes or hard lessons learned. Our March Ask-NCN Live focused on the topic of collaboration. It’s a common assumption that if you stick a bunch of nonprofits in one building, it’s inevitable that they’ll start collaborating, right? Well, maybe sometimes, but it’s usually challenging in one way or another. Here are a few of the highlights. How do we encourage collaboration without forcing it?


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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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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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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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