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The swirl of opinions about the pandemic’s impact on the state of commercial real estate and how that intersects with the outlook on nonprofit centers continues. Some reports are that workers are already back in their offices at near pre-pandemic levels and have been for the better part of a year, at least in small and mid-sized cities. Another report out of San Francisco recently warned that the city’s status as a commercial real estate investor’s dream hasn’t yet found its post-COVID footing as office buildings are pulled off the market after fetching lower than expected bids. From NCN’s perspective, some NCN members report lingering vacancies, but our consulting pipeline is currently full of groups creating new nonprofit centers in their communities.


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NCN recently hosted our summer Regional Chapter Roundtables across the US and Canada. Every time I attend these Roundtables, I'm reminded of the incredible impact our members have across North America. The incredible work our centers in operation and centers in development are doing, the incredible teams and tenants they serve, and the incredible solidarity and support they show their fellow NCN members by sharing ideas. In the spirit of sharing, below are a few of the great ideas for centers that we heard.


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18/Apr/2022

NCN consultants recently travelled to a client (for the first time since pre-pandemic -yay!) to host an in-person community town hall with local residents and representatives from schools, government, agencies, and city/county libraries and tour potential locations for a human services center. Typically, NCN consulting around feasibility for a new nonprofit center involves a town hall for nonprofit leaders, but it was clear from initial conversations with the client that including this additional local voice would be critical to how a new facility would best serve local residents.


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Pat Smith, Founder and CEO Serve Denton, Denton, TX NCN Steering Committee Member
18/Apr/2022

This month one of NCN’s Steering Committee members, Pat Smith, shared How to Help Nonprofits Own Efficiency and Effectiveness through Shared Services (link to blog). Pat reflects on why his center, Serve Denton, launched a shared services program in 2022. Serve Denton's mission is simple: partner with nonprofits to make their services more accessible to people in need. Over the years, they have seen many nonprofits doing their best but lacking the resources and expertise in marketing, financial management, development, and program evaluation. The overarching strategic goal at Serve Denton always been to grow capacity and help nonprofits operate with excellence–so stepping in to fill this expertise gap was a no-brainer. How did they achieve this goal?


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15/Mar/2022

Last week we had our first NCN Regional Chapter Roundtables of 2022. These Regional Chapter Roundtables occur once a quarter, and I am really enjoying seeing each chapter build its own identity and community for peer learning and connection. I am always so impressed by the tricks of the trade and new things I learn from our members at these roundtables, and I wanted a way to bring these to all of our NCN community. So, after each quarter’s round of roundtables, I’ll be sharing 5 tips I heard from the regional chapters about nonprofit centers and social purpose real estate. So without further adieu, let’s see what I learned about this time!


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Lexi Paza Co-Director
21/Feb/2022

Most of us generally understand that humans must have their basic needs met before they can engage in meaningful personal growth. If someone is struggling with hunger or can’t pay rent, it’s unlikely that they can ponder self-determining their own future by knowing and then having what it takes to achieve their own goals. The same thing happens in our community-serving organizations. If a nonprofit struggles to meet its basic needs – think constantly chasing funding or stressing about clients’ needs outpacing organizational capacity – then talking about shaping its future feels impossible at worst but unlikely at best.


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16/Nov/2021

NCN has seen its fair share of inquiries into consulting, and often these individuals or organizations are uncertain if they’ve come “at the right time.” Should I have x, y, and z figured out already? Have we gone too far down the road and should’ve engaged you sooner? In reality, any time you’re in need of expert help is an okay time to reach out. We do not want to see your project flounder and discontinue if it’s meant to be. That said, these initial preparation steps can help set you and your cohort up for success before entering into a contract with NCN. 1. Have a partner in crime. We’ve seen much more success if you have already been discussing colocation with at least one other person or entity. A sole individual raising the concept of shared space is definitely not a bad thing in and of itself, but have you hashed this out with someone who shares or could share in this vision? It can be a bit of a red flag if this is just one person’s pet project idea. Nonprofit centers are all about sharing, from start to finish, and that includes having at least 2 project leads on an NCN feasibility assessment. Not only do you have someone to share the workload with, but you also have another set eyes and ears to discuss and reflect on the process. 2. Engage larger entities.


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David Schrayer
18/Oct/2021

As you contemplate your next office space, take advantage of NCN’s updated guidelines for leasing. Co-Director David Schrayer offers 7 tips around planning ahead, budgeting, enlisting expert help and preparing for the unknowns, including one unexpected bonus suggestion at the end. Read on so you’re ready to seize the opportunity when it becomes available – and maybe that space will just happen to be in a nonprofit center! 7 Leasing Tips for Nonprofits Tip 1: Plan ahead


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06/Oct/2021

Why should my organization belong to a shared space? What can we accomplish here by being in proximity with one another, that we could not do alone? Why does our community need this space? NCN encourages addressing this through a collective Statement of Purpose exercise for a future shared space, by thinking about who is served/engaged, what will be provided and what the impact will be.


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Pat Smith, Founder and CEO Serve Denton, Denton, TX NCN Steering Committee Member
29/Jul/2021

When seasons of severe challenges hit your community, where will you turn? Community resilience is best done at the local level, informed by the direct interactions between citizens, government, nonprofits, education, churches, and businesses. Nonprofit centers such as Serve Denton are evidence of this. It’s a one-stop shop that offers colocation and networking to ensure people who are in need in Denton County can easily find help. Now more than ever, it's crucial for communities to initiate a forward-thinking approach to growing resilient communities. Our communities rely on this planning of meeting current and future needs to sustain their resiliency. The adage is true: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.


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