Donors and co-locating agencies create projects in pursuit of more than one of six benefits. Typical combinations include the desire to both enhance access and to strengthen partnering agencies. The hope: to strengthen agencies that have a shared mission. The goal: simultaneously promoting sustainability and innovation. These are only the most common combinations.
When done well, all real estate and location decisions are made with the intention of building community. However, the attempt to aid neighborhood development alone without careful consideration of the “mission benefit” of colocation first can have a profoundly negative consequence for non-profit organizations. At the inducement of neighborhood leaders, non-profits can feel compelled to move to locations that do not enhance their ability to deliver on mission. To borrow a phrase from the movie Field of Dreams – if we build a new community services center they will indeed come. Unfortunately, they may come for the wrong reasons and the project is likely to be unsustainable.
Prioritization of benefits then are mission first, community development second. Not because these benefits are mutually exclusive or because one is more important than the other. Rather, because this sequence assures both are maximized. Non-profit agencies and colocation project advocates must first become crystal clear on the measurable mission benefits that can only be achieved through colocation. Once these parameters are set then space criteria become clear. With clear mission benefit and space criteria, all parties can work to maximize community development through location. Prioritization then is a three step process: (a) What are the measurable mission benefits to be achieved through colocation? (b) What are the space or building criteria required to achieve these benefits? And, (c) What locations meet these criteria and maximize community development?
Paul Evensen spoke at Sharing Innovation and is presenting a 3 part series of entries on his presentation topic: How Many Non-Profit Centers Do You Really Need? This is the third entry in the series.