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Jackie Cefola Director, Consulting and Shared Services
14/Jan/2019

Way back in 2010, I was fortunate to be part of an amazing team with NCN founder China Brotsky, former-Executive Director Roxanne Hanson, and former staff member Tuan Ngo. Together, we co-wrote NCN’s Guide to Shared Services. Our intention was to support NCN member organizations’ interests in collaborative access to back-office job functions, what we termed “shared services.” Our opening lines of the Guide read, “Nonprofit organizations face challenging times. Volatile financial markets are impacting funding opportunities while the demand for services as well as operating expenses are increasing. For the majority of nonprofit organizations with already limited resources these challenges indicate a need for a new paradigm.” Sound familiar? While many things have changed in the past 9 years, pressures are still driving organizations to conserve precious resources and explore collaborative strategies. As a result, many organizations are considering the potential to share back-office services.


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08/Jan/2019

what should be the ideal amount for a Building Reserve Fund? They charge $1 per square foot back to their tenants to contribute to this fund, but wondered if they should cease doing that if they reached a certain number in their reserves? This generated multiple responses on how to be financially prepared if, or really when, issues arise – because they will! So, whether you own your own building or are planning to purchase/build one, read on to see how those in our network are thinking ahead.


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17/Dec/2018

December marks the end of the calendar year, and a time to pause and reflect on the months that have passed. Our team and community have so much to be proud of.  Speaking of our team – 2018 marks a new era for us. After a period of reimagining the role of The Nonprofit Centers Network in the social change landscape, our Steering Committee adopted a broader vision to become an international resource for shared space, shared services, and social purpose real estate. It is an honor to have been selected to move this work forward, as the new Executive Director. Bigger dreams need a bigger team, and I am so happy that Jackie and Chelsea are here to stay. (You can read their bios by visiting are who we are page). NCN members have been front of mind for us through all this change. Leena has shepherded the creation of new member benefits, like the ASK-NCN LIVE series, which has seen over sixty members participate in four videochats, so far. The knowledge, perspective, and funny stories that are shared in these sessions aren’t to be missed! 


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Jackie Cefola
27/Nov/2018

What overhead services are easiest to share? How do organizations decide to offer fiscal sponsorship? Is it necessary to survey potential customers before offering shared services? Earlier in November, 21 Nonprofit Centers Network members discussed these questions and more during the Ask-NCN Live video call focusing on shared administrative services. We periodically host Ask-NCN Live video calls to strengthen connection and sharing among our members. Participating members submit their questions in advance allowing the NCN team to identify key points of interest. During the video call, NCN facilitators gently guide the conversation to ensure that participants can ask their questions and receive answers directly from other members.


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Karen Derrick-Davis
06/Nov/2018

In a shared space setting, organizations are rethinking the way they manage and share resources. Though not always easy, the payoff can make the challenges worth it. Building a timebank within a shared space is another way to leverage the relationships and provide a framework and platform for sharing skills through the currency of time—time credits. In a timebank, members earn and spend time credits by providing services and accessing services. An time credit earned or spent in the timebank is always worth one hour, no matter what the service. All services are valued equally. Timebanks are redefining work and tapping a limitless resource: time.


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Lexi Paza and Nada Zohdy
10/Oct/2018

The number of commercial coworking spaces is rapidly growing across North America. These for-profit shared spaces achieve growth via a traditional and straightforward revenue model: acquire more space, serve more tenants. Yet how can and should nonprofit centers think differently about growth? At the Sharing Innovation annual NCN gathering in just a few weeks, we are both excited to share how our organizations – Tides in San Francisco and Open Gov Hub in Washington, D.C. – are each scaling their impact in a unique way, without adding more real estate. We will share our top takeaways (like how to lead with your values and leverage intangible assets), and how you can help your own center grow creatively. First, let’s start with the big elephant in the room: the meteoric rise of for-profit collaborative workspaces – an industry that is projected to grow 16% in the next five years. In Washington, D.C. this year alone, eight new commercial coworking companies have opened even though the field was already crowded with over 70 existing corporate shared spaces. WeWork, the leader in the sector, is now valued at $20 billion and promises members the opportunity to “become part of a greater ‘we’”. And WeWork isn’t alone in selling community as a key service/benefit (accessible to members as soon as they hit the “purchase” button on their membership payment). Most commercial coworking spaces seem to emphasize this as a key part of their branding. So, as operators of nonprofit centers, should we be worried about the extraordinary growth of the commercial equivalents of our shared spaces?


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11/Sep/2018

Moving. You either love it or hate it. In the nonprofit world, it can mean a ton of hassle, and lengthy disruptions. I knew someone who had moved her organizations three times in two years due to changing lease terms, and she never wanted to go through that again. A huge benefit to sharing space with other organizations is that there is someone to show you the way. The wi-fi and copier are already set up. Whether you own a large multi-tenant shared space or you are just renting out a corner of your office to a partner organization, here are a few things to think about.


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Roman Katsnelson, KRD Consulting Group Inc.
04/Sep/2018

Data is everywhere. We generate and consume it throughout our day,  whether at work, at play, or at home. On the ground and in the cloud - smart devices track our every step (literally), while algorithms convert traces of our decisions, actions and moods into predictors of future behavior. So too in our centres, data is everywhere. Wherever we fall on the spectrum from co-location to collaboration, we interact with our constituents in a wide variety of ways – they are tenants who sign leases and pay rent, collaborators who contribute to shared missions, members who draw on our support. Each of these activities generates bits of information, and we could – at least hypothetically – track all of them into some giant whole. But we quickly realize that information is not by itself particularly helpful. Mere numbers strung might create a moment’s curiosity – but then what? For example, you’ve likely seen the graphics depicting the mega-activity of the modern Internet: so-and-so many millions of videos viewed every second, such-and-such many billions of “likes” clicked on social media:  tweets and swipes and comments, oh my! We have no reason to doubt the truth of this data – but what can we do with it? Information is not yet knowledge. In his book “Data Driven Nonprofits,” Steve MacLaughlin coined the phrase “TBU: True But Useless.”  In order not to waste resource collecting TBU data, we have to adopt the usability mindset from the outset.


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Lara Jakubowski La Piana Consulting Denver, CO
27/Aug/2018

The power of language in how we think about and promote shared resource solutions. In today’s social and political environment we bear witness every day to how the power of words can divide, discriminate, and denigrate. They can also be tools for equity, justice, and social good. In the field of nonprofit shared resources we need to examine more carefully how our choice of language can aid our cause to foster greater efficiency, equity, and positive social impact. We may find that we are wielding blunt semantic instruments to build our missions. Let’s look at perhaps our most commonplace expression, “shared resources” (space, people, services, etc.). Our field is growing with increasing demands placed on the third sector as government-provisioned social safety nets wane. The call is ever louder for greater efficiency and equity of access through sharing. However, I’ve been asked frequently how our coworking space at CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia differs from old-school executive suites, or even a generic multi-tenant building. Likewise, as a Model A Fiscal Sponsor, people wonder how our services differ from that of an outsourced bookkeeper, for example. Good questions. If you think about it all professional service firms, for-profit or nonprofit, are “shared resources”; a law firm’s attorneys are “shared” by many clients. And I doubt that NCN would consider itself the association for general multi-tenant landlords, even if they are nonprofit. So what are we talking about when we say “shared spaces and services”?


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14/Aug/2018

This is our final week of taking a trip down memory lane to our 2017 gathering, Sharing Innovation, as a way to get psyched for 2018’s event in October. Whether you missed last year or need a little convincing to attend this year (as if!?), check out the final of our four Sharing Innovation 2017 Blog Video Series below.  With two speakers each over last year’s themes of Technology for Collaboration, Adaptive Partnerships, Smart Growth and Sustainability, we’re certain you’ll walk away with not only some fresh innovative ideas, but also the desire to (re)connect with the NCN community this October!

We close with our final theme:

Theme: Sustainability

Applying Biomimicry Principals for Shared Space Innovation

Katy Sheehan and Summer Hess

Community Building, Spokane, WA

The Community Building Campus is a nonprofit center and small business incubator focused on fostering growth and measuring success outside of traditional metrics.

AC to DC Conversion

Sandy Vanderstoep

The Alliance Center, Denver, CO

The Alliance Center has served as a community working at all levels to create a more sustainable world. Now with the AC/DC Conversion project, the building itself will be a model for future commercial to reduce their energy consumption.

Did you miss the previous videos or need to review? Head here to catch all 8 presentations!


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