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From the NCN Blog

Brandi Stanley

November 9, 2015


“Shared space” is still a relatively new way to work. Because of it’s “newness,” we just don’t have a lot of formal research or guides to show us how to do it well. At the Nonprofit Centers Network 2015 Building Opportunities Conference in June, I spoke on two panels: The first on Community Animation, where I was joined by several other “animators” from spaces across the U.S. and Canada; and the second, on branding for shared spaces. In those two talks, it became incredibly apparent to me how intertwined community animation and branding really are.


In my two years as a formal “community animator” in a shared space, I’ve learned a few lessons and come by some great resources, and I hope they might be helpful to you.


Animation is another way to say “culture building.” Every space has a personality, whether you notice it overtly or not. As an animator, you are helping to craft that personality to be what makes the most sense for your space. You are, in fact, building your brand. Every space detail you help cultivate, every tenant or member you select to be in your building, every program you run, every staff member you hire, and every way in which you encourage activation in your space says something about you. Does what you’re saying align with the culture you’re trying to build? Does it align with your overall mission? And is what you’re saying consistent? Does being consistent even matter in your model? If it does, but you’re not doing it, you might have a harder time attracting or retaining members because they might be getting mixed messages. Jim Collins refers to this concept—all the minor acts that add up to the bigger picture—as a “flywheel.”


To that end, my two absolute best resources when it comes to culture building and branding are:


As well, here’s an additional tool that we’ve used here at the Posner Center, which was recommended to me by Katie Edwards of NCN. Our staff walked through it several months ago, and even though we’d already developed most of our branding components, it helped everyone on our team get clear about the how the types of decisions we were making spoke to our brand.


Just because you aren’t an architect, an urban planner, an interior designer, or a millionaire, doesn’t mean you can’t afford to consider your space and how it affects collaboration. Remember how I said that everything affects your brand and your ability to animate? People will probably walk into your space before they talk to anyone who works there. Paying attention to how your space affects behavior is an important piece of the work.


How does your space affect mood?

  • Is the lighting great?
  • Does it make people want to spend several hours a day there?


Does it help or hinder human connection?

  • Are there areas where people are encouraged to linger, like the kitchen or seating nooks?
  • Is it too dark or too hot or too cold to want to talk?


Can people find and get to other areas around the building?

  • Are rooms accessible for all types of people?
  • Is there adequate signage or do people find themselves frustrated while navigating your space?


Is it clear what each space is meant for and how to use it?

  • Do people know where they’re invited to talk to their neighbors and other spaces where it’s clear that they’re meant to be working quietly?
  • Is it clear where and how to reserve certain rooms for meetings?


When any of these things (or more) aren’t working, there’s a chance you’re not only giving bad impressions, but also allowing opportunities for frustration, confusion, and lack of collaboration. My best resource for space design as it relates to facilitating collaborative environments is:


I have Megan Devenport of Denver Shared Spaces to thank for this gift last year. Placemaking resources also tend to be great guides in helping to understand how “space” or built environment affects behavior, mood, connection, and engagement.


Behavior change is something you’ll have to keep preaching. We’re asking people in our spaces to think less about competition and working in silos and more about cooperation, collaboration, and integration. This kind of “cultural” shift is one that requires shifting perspectives of the people, companies, and organizations in your space, and sometimes even the “users” or “clients” who come into your space for services.


Behavior change is integral to understanding how you might animate people in a common direction, which is often different than they’re used to, even as much as you might see this new way of working as completely logical. Know that others either aren’t familiar with it and don’t yet see its benefits, or are extremely familiar with it and actually largely against it (sometimes for good reason because collaboration isn’t always the right answer, either). We should focus on finding out when collaboration is the most meaningful and beneficial to both or all parties involved. The willingness to collaborate when it’s appropriate is an attitude that has to be fostered.


For this, one of my favorite books around a community-based approach to social marketing and behavior change is:



We’re making progress.
Thankfully, despite the struggle we often find as staff of shared spaces around legitimizing and formalizing our roles, we are making great progress. NCN hosts the Building Opportunities conference every two years, provides access to resources around running a shared space, and hosts phone calls and projects for people and organizations within the sector. Places like Denver Shared Spaces convenes “Community Animators” in Denver at a monthly Shared Space Managers Roundtable, hosts trainings on animating spaces, and is even working to formalize position descriptions for animators. These are all great signs that indicate we are moving forward and gaining access to valuable tools. Hopefully these resources only continue to grow and gain traction in the coming years.


About Our Guest Blogger: Brandi Stanley
Brandi Stanley is the Community Animator for the Posner Center for International Development, a community of nearly 60 international development-oriented businesses and organizations and network of another 100+ Members in a 25,000 square-foot shared space in Denver, Colorado who grow lasting solutions to global poverty.


Topics Below

Gender-Neutral, Male/Female, Family Friendly
Restroom Safety & Security

Restrooms – Gender-Neutral, Male/Female, Family Friendly


From an Ask-NCN Discussion, 5/3/16



Dominic Lucchesi, The Brower Center, 5/3/16
With the recent events in North Carolina and elsewhere, the issue of providing gender neutral restrooms has come up recently in our space here at the Brower Center. Our building is fairly dynamic with members of the public, private event guests, and building tenants all sharing the building each day.
Each floor currently includes separate male/female restrooms.
I’m curious to know if anyone in the group has had any experience with transitioning to gender neutral bathrooms. Has the conversation come up in your space? How have you tried to balance the needs/beliefs of all building users?



Juliane Mayne, Arts Habitat Edmonton, 5/3/16


Doug Vilsack, Posner Center for International Development
We have gender-neutral restrooms downstairs at the Posner Center, mainly because we didn’t have enough space to have decently-large male/female restrooms on each floor. There are no urinals, only small rooms with locking doors. The restroom on the second floor was supposed to be gender-neutral as well, but a group of women in our building revolted about not having their own restroom when we opened and that was not a battle I wanted to fight! Our experience with our gender-neutral restroom has been positive, and most folks in our building are very used to it by now. That said, it does cause some stress for our many visitors from developing countries where unisex bathrooms are unheard of and not culturally appropriate.


Tonya Surman, Centre for Social Innovation
We only do ‘All Gender” Rest Rooms now… they are awesome… create amazing collaboration and connection, save space and are truly inclusive…a little word… we have had lots of politcal drama’s up here about the topic and have arrived at “All Gender” instead of Gender Neutral… cause actually, all genders are welcomeA key to the solution was the creation of a ‘super elite’ universal access rest room where people who use wheelchairs, need showers or prefer more privacy can still find it in the mix.
works like a charm.


Faisal Abid, The NonProfit Center of Boston
At the NonProfit Center of Boston, we have a male and female restroom on each floor. In an effort to be more inclusive, we built out a separate single occupancy/gender neutral restroom on one of our floors that is also fully ADA compliant. We added signs in each of our existing restrooms that notify visitors and tenants that there is another option if they are more comfortable.
We have had this now for about two years and have found that it is appreciated by tenants and visitors to our center alike. It’s also directly next to our mothering room and doubles as a changing station when needed. We’ve had no issues whatsoever with any of our tenants since they still have the option of using gender specific restrooms. Highly recommend having one available!


Dominic Lucchesi, David Brower Center
Here is a look at the signage that we placed outside all of our restrooms this morning:
Inline image 1
Inline image 1

I think there is some more work to be done, but hopefully this is a step in the right direction. Any feedback would be most appreciated!


Misha Palin, Citizen Engagement Laboratory
When we opened in March we were asked by one of our potential tenants what we could do to have more inclusive restrooms. As we were remodeling we spoke to the architects, general contractors, and building owners to see what would be our options. We have multiple stalls in each bathroom and we were not allowed to have all gender bathrooms according to building code.Our solution was to place a sign inside and out of each restroom and I offer keys to single use bathrooms on different floors for anyone who would feel more comfortable using single-use bathrooms.
Thank you for all the examples of signs and videos. They would have been helpful as we navigated this territory.Here are the resources I consulted:

Inline image 1
Inline image 1


Dustin Barrington, HNS Life Center
We are in a more conservative community, so no one has expressed much interest in gender neutral restrooms thus far.Assuming, however, that this could happen, we do have a “single use” restroom adjacent to the Men’s and Women’s restrooms that also has a changing table and is designated for Families. Our original intention was to serve parents of either gender who may need to change a diaper. By default, it is available for anyone that feels more comfortable not sharing a restroom regardless of their reason.This provides a useful hygiene option without requiring us to define a position.


Angela Baldridge, The Plantory
We have gendered (male/female) restrooms with individual stalls in them (no urinals) so people can have privacy but can use the restroom that best fits their identity, and we have a single unit restroom with a shower and changing table so that folks have another option if they don’t identify with the binary genders, or if they just want to use a single bathroom. Our staff intentionally uses the single unit one so that use of that bathroom isn’t some sort of signifier. We were required to have separate restrooms by code, but we are changing our signage soon to make them more inclusive as well.

Restroom Security & Safety


From Ask-NCN 2.23.18


Remy-Anne Viajar, Sobrato Family Foundation
We are interested to hear what other groups have done to address restroom safety, security and access at any of their centers/ buildings.
Due to an increasing amount of serious safety/ facility related issues (including tenant complaints) surrounding our restrooms, we are considering having all of our restrooms locked and requiring punch code to gain access.

To make things a bit more interesting, here are some of our fun facts about our building:

  • We operate a 2 story, multi-tenant (13) building, a little over 100,000 sq.ft
  • We only have 1 FTE onsite (M-F from 8am-5pm)
  • Within this building we operate a very busy conference center, that outside organizations also use.
  • On any given day, our Center hosts government and community leaders and our tenants’ clients, which include families, children, individuals with developmental disabilities, individuals in homelessness, and people struggling with mental illness.
  • We are also located adjacent to a tent camp for homeless individuals

We strive and want to keep our environment warm and welcoming to all, but unfortunately seem to have reached the tipping point where controlled access is now needed. Look forward to your feedback and welcome suggestions!


Judy Lind, Kukui Children’s Center
We operate a similar center in a similar neighborhood.
All of our restrooms are locked. Every employee has a key and we keep keys in the conference room.
That has worked well for us.
As for access, the front door is open from 7:30 to 5pm, 7 days a week. All tenant ED’s have a key which allows them access before and after those hours. There is a gate to the parking lot that automatically opens at 7:30 am(earlier on days the garbage company comes) and closes at 6:30 p.m. Anyone in the parking lot can still exit. There is a code which tenants have to operate the gate manually if they need to let someone in.
There is an intercom to each office by the front door. If someone needs to come in after normal operating hours, the person calls the program who comes to open the door. We don’t open it remotely because we want to see who is coming in.
We also have video cameras all around the building. When there have been incidents, the police can access the video which has happened several times. The recordings self erase every 30 days and can be accessed by our property manager.
Hope this helps.


Valerie Hill, Center for Social Change
We are dealing with the same tipping point….
We occupy about 3 floors of an 8 floor office building.All of our members have nearly 24/7 access to the space, so we needed solutions that are secure but not prohibitive to easy use of the space.

We installed cameras only facing entrances/exits as to intrude as little as possible. The blink cameras were bought off amazon and send video to a cloud when triggered by motion. We only have them set to record outside of staffed hours at this point. You can also purchase very cheap fake cameras with AA battery powered blinking lights to look real.

We have schlage locks from home depot with codes on our bathrooms and main doors. All of the bathrooms have the same simple code which is posted inside our space. I highly recommend this over physical keys as they were always getting lost, left in bathroom, etc.

For the main space entrance doors, I would not recommend the code solution we have, too easy for people to share. We are about to take the next leap to access control with Salto systems, built for co-working. Each person with have a key fob which we can deactivate easily if needed. Soon they will upgrade the system and people can use a phone app for entrance instead.

As far as guests, I am working on reusable guest lanyards that would list which org the person is visiting. Looking for other ideas!


Email if you have additional resources on this topic.


Space for Nursing Mothers to Pump Milk


From an Ask-NCN Discussion on 2/2/15


Hillary Brooks, David Brower Center
A subtenant ED just submitted a complaint about having to use the communal shower rooms for expressing breast milk. Having been through that not-so-fun experience myself, I have sympathy for her need for a clean, private space. Yet, I believe it is not the landlord’s legal responsibility to provide the room; it’s the employer’s.

Further, our shower rooms are actually not heavily used, they are cleaned regularly, and they are legally compliant as a private room for pumping, as she herself acknowledges. She just thinks it’s icky because multiple sweaty people use the space and it gets wet with shower water.

While it appears that this is a tenant relations issue rather than a legal one, I’m still wondering: have any of you dealt with this issue? If so, how do you have any learnings or innovative solutions to share?


Karen Maciorowski, CT Nonprofit Center
We have had many similar requests from guests of our Center; when we realized that all of our offices have glass doors and windows we realized, oops, poor planning! We figured having a temporary place to pump for a visitor/tenant is an important aspect of customer service. We identified an office in our space that a staff member was willing to give up for a period of time; purchased privacy screens from Walmart to block all of the glass; lock the door; and use special environmentally safe spray to spray before and after the pumping. BUT we also require that people give us notice on the time period (if not just one day visitor, but is a tenant or someone there regularly). Any tenant can borrow the privacy screens and environmental spray to set up the same in their office space. If a door does not have a lock, we have a volunteer female staff person sit outside the room for the 10 – 15 mins it takes to pump. The appreciation from the “Moms” goes a long way. However, I have no idea what the legal issues are; we simply started with a new “Mom” on staff and figured out a solution that didn’t creep her out and then extended it to visitors/tenants. She started bringing her own portable cooler with her so as not to have to use the communal fridge; then we purchased a small dorm fridge for the purpose.


Topics Below

Fee and Facilitating Conference Rooms Space


Ask-NCN Conversation 10.10.17


Debbie Shoemaker, Community Foundation of Southern Arizona
I am helping an organization that is developing a new nonprofit community center. They are currently Developing their business model and are looking for any input on facilitating the conference room space? Is there any charge for tenants or co-working members? What fees are you charging? What would be the fee for outside users? Do you have individual fees for conference room AV equipment etc.? How do you handle after hour events. Does your Onside Manager help with after hour events? I would appreciate any input on this subject. Thank you
Shelby Bradbury, Nonprofit Innovation Center
At the NIC we only charge for after-hours usage, anything on the weekends or after 5 pm on weekdays. It’s a $50/hour charge. We only allow tenants to use the common space at NIC. We have a conference center next door for nonprofits in our community, free of charge. We provide A/V equipment to our two large meeting rooms.


Charlene Altenhain, Glasser Schoenbaum Human Services Center
Free conference space is a benefit extended to our tenant nonprofits. They can use the space any time and they are responsible for set up, clean up, and if used after hours, they are responsible for securing the building. We also provide A/V at no charge. Community partner nonprofits can use the space during the day, but they have to be sponsored by a tenant to use the space after hours. Then the tenant is responsible for securing the building. Our staff handles scheduling and making sure the rooms are clean and ready to be used.


Sarah Reidy-Jones, Children and Family Services Center, Inc.
We offer unlimited conference room usage for our partner tenants (10 year lease). We have 10 conference rooms that seat from 6-100. Non-partner tenants get 5 free hours of usage and a nominal fee ($15/$25/$50/$100 an hour depending on size of room).
Due to the popularity of these rooms, we limit outside usage to groups that are specifically working with our partner tenants. We do require off-hours security guards (approximately $25/hour) if outside our normal security guard staffing. We have an IT staff that assists with A/V equipment but no off-hours manager. We provide spider phones, projectors and microphones/speakers at no cost but on a first-come, first-serve basis. We use Outlook Calendars to book our meeting room spaces.


Shelby Fox, Knight Nonprofit Center
We consider meeting and banquet room space a tenant benefit so we do not charge tenants but do charge anyone else that is not a tenant including nonprofits and for profits. There isn’t really a restriction on tenants except there is a limited amount of times the banquet room can be used by the smaller tenants to keep people from renting the smallest suite and monopolizing the meeting rooms so just a fairness check on size but never had an issue with it to date. After hours is different I even charge tenants for afterhours especially weekends. I determine what is “after hours” by if I have to extend when the air is on, have housekeeping make an additional trip or extend security. Tenants can NOT sponsor non tenants if a non-tenant goes through a tenant to make a meeting reservation so they don’t have to pay I charge it back to the tenant. Partnership meetings are of course allowed but if the tenant is not really part of the meeting they can’t sponsor by giving away space. We found that some of our meeting rooms were not being utilized as much as they could be so when we started charging outside groups it really helped utilize the center, spread the word about the center because it was good marketing having outside groups come in, and was a nice revenue stream that allowed us to add extra benefits for the tenants.


Kim Jones, Nonprofit Village

At the Nonprofit Village, we also do not charge current members for use of meeting space. However, we have started to put a limit on the number of hours based on whether the organization is virtual or full service. They all book their own time online, and at the end of each month we draw the results of the number of hours used. Then we severely punish and publicly humiliate those that go over the limit (just kidding). We charge them back for the extra hours used. It seemed to get everyone in control because we haven’t charged in months.

Nonmember organizations are charged $25/hour, lower than the rate for most county space. Evening and weekend rates are higher. Members cannot sponsor nonmembers unless the member is a part of the meeting. All equipment is included in the room usage (phone line, speaker pod, TV with HDMI cable, screen and projector. No laptop is included though. Free wifi is available. We do not offer assistance, except to answer setup questions, even for nonmember groups. Hope this helps. Feel free to contact offline if necessary.


Discussions Below

Room Booking Etiquette
Strategy for Misuse of Space
Behavior Modifications – Doing the Dishes
Paying the Rent On Time
Your Shared Values & Cleaning Expectations

See also:
Collaboration and Getting Along


Room Booking Etiquette

From an Ask-NCN Discussion 4/22/15


Mariah Shell, Alliance Center
We run a shared space with about 150 individuals and 18 conference rooms of varying sizes. Right now, we’re using a Google Calendar system to schedule the conference rooms but as our building has gotten more full, we’re running into some issues. All of our tenants have unlimited access to the conference rooms when they’re available, but lately we’ve been having issues with rooms being booked and not used, or being used when they’re not booked, etc. A lot of our tenants aren’t comfortable asking others to move, even if they have rights to the conference room.
How do you manage conference room usage in your building? Does anyone have any good tips or ideas on how to balance all of this?


James Thomson, New Life Foundation
Thankfully here at The Common Roof we have a full time reception staff at both of our shared space locations who manage room booking requests. These staff use Outlook to block off rooms as they are booked and to email the individual requesting the space with the details. While this is quite an easy process in terms of requests and our ability to respond, our biggest issue that we face is room booking conflicts – where 2 or more tenants wish to book the same room and the same time. While I like the idea of an online system where folks can access and book, my concern would be control over the confirmation of requests (especially if there are conflicts).


Faisal Abid, Nonprofit Center of Boston
We use a system at the NonProfit Center of Boston called Resource Scheduler through Peoplecube. This system allows us to place some restrictions on how often a group can rent space, recurring reservations, how far in advance, what rooms they have access to, etc.
We used to have a lot of issues with groups reserving a space then not using it; we’ve gotten around this for the most part by putting a cancellation fee in place. For example, if you do not cancel your reservation in our larger conference rooms at least two business days in advance, we charge a $50 cancellation fee. We’ve hardly ever had to charge this, but it seems to have done the trick.
For groups using the space without a reservation, our tenants ask someone from the building staff to speak to whoever is in the room. We’ve found that after a couple of times, most groups no longer use space that they haven’t booked ahead of time. In addition to this, all of our larger spaces are kept locked, and only unlocked for the group that has a reservation in the system.


Shelby Fox, Knight Nonprofit Center
We just use the google calendar and only one person per tenant organization is given access to be able to book meetings on the calendar. You can have edit or view only capabilities on it. We have them email or call me to book the big banquet room but other meeting rooms they do on their own. We use a color code system for the rooms so at easy glance everyone can see what is booked. Tenants all have unlimited access to rooms but we charge non tenants. If tenants are caught booking a room for a non-tenant then they get charged but really I don’t have many problems. We don’t have a lot of tenant turnover so I am not constantly having to train new people on how it works. I over see it in general but they can book on their own. It allows it to be public on our website. It isn’t public to edit but it is public to view which helps people coming here for a meetings and events. It is free and working pretty good. You can book recurring meetings etc.


Katie Edwards, The Nonprofit Center
One thing I would add to this conversation (in my capacity as a tenant in The Alliance Center) is that I’m not sure that it’s a technology problem, but a people problem. Groups are booking rooms for the entire day, and then not using them, or using them for an hour and not cancelling them. Other people see an empty conference room and take it, even though it might be reserved (I think this practice is a response to those groups who are booking space but not using it).

How did you establish your norms around meeting room usage? What are your policies about canceling room bookings? When is it okay for one tenant to take over a booked but not used space? What about when there’s someone in the room that has been booked? When is it okay to kick them out?


James Thomson
We have developed a Room Booking Principle that all Tenants/Partners agree to as well as a Room Booking Protocol which outlines our process. If anyone would like to have a copy, just email me directly.


Maureen Moloughney, Heartwood House
In Heartwood House reservations may be cancelled one day prior to the meeting or same day if weather conditions make it necessary to cancel a meeting. If no cancellation notice is received the group is charged for the reservation.

Only one meeting space is not locked. All the other rooms must be unlocked by the reception staff prior to the meeting. This really helps to avoid communication challenges and it ensures that we all contribute to the cost of these meeting spaces that benefit everyone.

Heartwooders do step into the unlocked meeting room without reserving it but everyone understands that non-reserved usage can and does result in a need to exit the space as the reservation schedule changes on a daily basis. For this reason members rarely go into a meeting space without reserving it.

Heartwood makes it clear to all members that reservations take priority at all times and Heartwooders have no trouble reminding each other to exit the room if the space is reserved.

We also send out meeting room reservation updates on a regular basis and that’s a good way to keep the people focused. Reservations are booked through our reception staff.


Karen Maciorowski, CT Nonprofit Center
We have 4 conference rooms for our current 17 tenants (plans to grow to 30 tenants and we will add 1-2 conference rooms). We have a staff member in charge of managing the request for space. People interested are responsible to fill out a survey monkey questions about their needs and receive a confirmation email outlining the confirmation of their room reserved. They may see the availability on our public calendar, but only tenants and those that ask to reserve a room are given the survey link. The survey allows us to track supply and demand and report to our partners and funders how many visitors come to the CT Nonprofit Center as well as parking demands. All tenants are allocated room usage allotments per month; after hours (after 4:30 and on weekends) do not count toward their allotment; if they don’t cancel within 72 hours of using the room, they forfeit the associated hours; if they go over the hours they are charged $25/hour with a cap of $150 per day. Our Office Administrator manages the process and deals with conflicts for rooms, including asking groups to switch rooms if appropriate.

We use google calendars for external view of availability and Outlook calendars with color coding to reserve the rooms. The process is time consuming and we are looking for a software that can help us better manage the process and developing a policy for tenants to manage their own set-up and clean-up. We have a few offenders that go over their time allotment, but we remind them before their meeting if someone has reserved the space before they go into it and have been successful in getting them to reserve longer periods of time to accommodate an overage. People cannot just jump into an empty room; we need to gather information on usage so we can determine demand and when the need to add another conference room comes. We’ve been speaking with CT Center for Advanced Technology that wrote a program for the Hartford Library for room reservations – they are considering customizing one for nonprofit centers (they are the technology consultants for our Center as well as one in Florida). This would be a cloud based system with licensing options. If they do, I’ll keep you updated because what works for one center will probably work for another.

Our goal is to make the process of room reservations more efficient without taking the control out of our
hands. Any ideas are welcomed.


Jennifer Pedroni, Community Partners Center for Health & Human Services
We run a 24,0000 square foot nonprofit with four conference rooms, two of which are available only to tenants and two are available to tenants and nonprofits in the community. We do not charge a fee to use the rooms, but we plan to evaluate this policy in the next quarter. We use an online systems that was developed by the New Center that allows a public view of the calendar. Once a user has signed up and been approved they can book the rooms automatically and we are notified through the system. We do have some “people” issues with folks not cancelling their reservations and not cleaning up after themselves. The large meeting room has a flexible space with a variety of set ups available and we work with a local nonprofit that provides services to people with intellectual disabilities and they provide the room set-sups for the meetings. Their staff can view the calendar online to see what set ups are needed and when and they coordinate with our Operations Managers.

You can view the calendar online here and if you scroll to the bottom there are links to our meeting room policies and procedures, our checkout procedures and an AV users guide. All first time users are required to have a meeting room orientation prior to using the room.

I prepare a summary on an annual basis on the use of the meeting rooms for our Board of Managers using the information collected from the system.

If anyone is interested in seeing a copy of the Meeting Room Usage Report or has questions about our process or software, please let me know.


Jodie Semkiw, Saskatoon Community Service Village
Here at the Village we have 6 member agencies and 5 meeting spaces. Use of meeting space is a value added for member agencies. We use a web based system called Room Booking System. Admin staff in our agencies have a username and password to login into the Room Booking System to book rooms. That being said, we have room booking periods (Jan-March, April-August, Sept –Dec) where Village agencies submit to the admin their regular room booking needs in priority. For instance, Board Meetings, group counselling meetings, regular programming. So at the end of March, agencies submitted their regular room booking needs for Sept-Dec by priority. Village Admin then does a lottery to see which agency’s room bookings are entered first, 2nd and so forth. Then she enters all agency’s 1st and 2nd priorities, then 3rd and 4th priorities etc. Once Village Admin has entered the bookings for a room booking period access is then opened to all agencies to book on an first come first serve basis. Each day Village admin prints a room schedule that is posted at the main office and door schedules are printed for each of our meeting room doors.

We also rent to other non-profit and community groups for a small fee of $15/hour. These bookings are done through Village Admin.



Strategy for Misuse of Space


From an Ask-NCN Discussion 6.13.16


Allison Hanold, Chicago Literacy Alliance
We’re one year old (actually, as of today! Yay!) and have seen a wonderful increase in the use of our space and demand for our conference rooms and offices. That said, we’ve had a few members who repeatedly reserve space for outside groups without being present (against our policies) and have exhibited a few other behaviors that we’d like to see curbed.

Does anyone have procedures for creating effective repercussions for misuse of space while still maintaining a welcoming environment? Our culture is critically important to us and we build welcoming and friendly language into all of our communications, but we need to draw a line somewhere. Advice? We’re thinking of incident reports, or, on the more extreme side, a strike system. Would love to know what’s worked for you all!


Pat Smith, Serve Denton
One the ideas we discussed at Streamlining for Social Good was that a center’s culture is built on values and norms. At Serve Denton we have five values that we strive to live every day but no stated norms. We have a tenant manual modeled on other centers, but some centers I have talked to have explained how norms are important to how they operate. Everyone has norms–its a question of are they the norms you want. We are holding a staff retreat on Friday to talk through what our norms are and what we want them to be and how we best communicate those to our tenants.

I realize this might not be much help…but we feel your pain to some degree.


Kim Sarnecki, Tides
We feel your pain as well. We use a Checklist in our conference rooms to ensure folks know the expectations. They are asked to use the checklist before leaving the room (especially for off hours or longer retreat meetings) and sign off on the sheet that everything has been completed.


Misha Palin, Citizens Engagement Lab

The way I’d handle this situation, if it wasn’t expressly stated in my handbook, is to send out a memo with an addendum to the handbook. Have everyone sign-off after reading it and make sure everyone knows the rules of engagement and consequences.

That way you’re not having to call out one of your clients, it’s just a blanket rule for everyone.


Behavior Modifications – Doing the Dishes

From an Ask-NCN Discussion – 5/9/16


Jimmy Martin, Chicago Literacy Alliance
I wanted to see if there were any breakthroughs in the world of behavioral modification techniques regarding human beings and their use/misuse of dishes in shared spaces.

We’ve exhausted most methods regarding signage and word of mouth communications, but we have yet to solve the riddle of “what gets people to clean the dishes they use?” Any ideas or best practices that have worked for you and your space?


Daniel Meyers, Al Sigl Community of Agencies
Good luck solving the unsolvable.
Sunny peace


Dominic Lucchesi, David Brower Center
try humor?

Inline image 1
Inline image 1


Adil Dhalla, Centre for Social Innovation
We’ve tried almost everything over the years but the most successful technique has been putting fist-sized rocks (yup, rocks) in each sink to line the bottom.

We think this has been successful for three reasons:
1) The unevenness of the rocks makes it hard to place some dishes or all cups on
2) Unlike signs, it is impossible for them to “miss the messaging” give the location of the reminder
3) The rocks provide a reminder of the natural environment, which triggers people’s behaviour around how they would treat something like the ocean floor.


Katie Edwards, The Nonprofit Centers Network
One thing I saw at a center I visited recently was that they assigned each one of their tenant partners a week to clean the kitchen. They would post the organization’s name on a white board on the fridge, and it would change each week.

They were small through, and each of the partners were about the same size.


Shelby Fox, Knight Nonprofit Center

We put signs up that the dishes will be thrown away if left more than 1 day and I have been throwing them away (or in some cases giving away) and actually it has worked. After a few rounds of throwing peoples stuff away they got the message and quit doing it.


Tom Olivas, Girl Scouts Orange County
Good luck, we have tried it all (except rocks) , and finally arranged to have the contract janitorial service clean the kitchen every other night, along with using several of the other techniques mentioned below, it seems to work most of the time.


Peter Barrett
How about a motion-sensitive camera on the sink, then sharing the video on Facebook!


Tonia Surman, Centre for Social Innovation
the rocks really work… and the humourous signs… that keep changing… oh yeah, that’s the other thing… there should be a new poster every month… people don’t see the signs after a while….
try the rocks : )


James Thomson, New Path Foundation
We have exhausted all options over our 10 year history of shared space…what we ended up doing was building this into the cleaning routine for our nightly cleaners. As every tenant pays into this service, it made the most sense.


Paying the Rent On Time

From an Ask-NCN Discussion, 5/11/16


Katie Edwards, The Nonprofit Centers Network
We’ve gotten a request for more information about how centers collect fees on late rent payments.

1. Can you share your clause from your lease or license about late fees?
2. How much do you charge? Is it a flat fee or a percentage of rent?

Please share any insight you have into this process!


Alan Ziter, The NTC Foundation
See the clause below from our Lease Agreement that outlines Late Fees for late rent payment. We encourage any Resident Group that may need to pay late to notify us in advance regarding the circumstances as we want to work with them to stay current. This is more for those that casually or habitually pay late without notification.
“Late ChargeWith the exception of Real Property Taxes paid as Additional Rent which carries a higher late charge pursuant to Section 13, if any payment due hereunder is not received by the 5th day after the date the payment is due, a late charge in the amount of 5% of the payment amount shall be charged to, and payable by, Resident Group.”


Nada Zohdy, OpenGov Hub
Our rent is due from tenant members on the first of the month but we always offer a one week grace period of them to get payments in. After that time a late fee takes effect, which is always 10% of the total amount due.

This is the stock language in our licensing agreements:
“Licensee shall pay all fees to Licensor on April 1, 2016, and by the first of each month thereafter. Licensor will offer a one-week grace period each month to collect license fees. If Licensee fails to make any payment of the License Fee by the seventh day of each month (after the one week grace period ends), then Licensee shall pay Licensor a late charge of ten percent (10%) of the amount of such payment.”


Pam Mauk, Together Center
Our clause says the following, and I don’t think in 26 years we have used it, although we have mentioned it a time or two.

4.3 Late Charge. If any installment of rent is not paid within ten (10) days of the due date, a late charge of five percent (5%) of the rents owed with a minimum of fifty dollars ($50) shall be added as additional rent. In the event that any installment of rent or any late charge is not paid in full on or before the thirtieth (30th) day of the month, interest on the unpaid amounts shall begin to accrue at the rate of eight percent (8%) per annum until paid in full.


Cleaning Expectations and Shared Values

From an Ask-NCN Conversation 5/2/2017


Lucinda Kerschensteiner, Center for Social Change
I’d love to hear examples of your Center’s Community Values and what your expectations are of your members for cleaning of common space and their offices. We are regrouping regarding cleaning and understand it’s tied to the values of the community. Thanks so much!


Allison Reser, The Alliance Center
At The Alliance Center in Denver, we have a janitorial service that cleans all floors, bathrooms, common surfaces and kitchens every night. However, the janitorial service does not wash/put away dishes or clean out the refrigerators. We provide dishes for our tenant community and expect all tenants to clean up after themselves in the kitchens (which doesn’t always work out super well, so our staff supplements dish duty). We also expect tenants to clean up everything in common meeting rooms including whiteboards, and we do not touch/clean anything on tenants’ desks.


Nada Zohdy, OpenGov Hub

At the Open Gov Hub, we also have basic janitorial service nightly, but in addition we organize a Monthly (‘volun-mandatory’) Cleaning Brigade on the last Thursday of every month. Each time we randomly pick 5-7 community members and ask them to contribute an hour sometime between 4-6pm to tackle big cleaning activities like cleaning out the fridges and wiping down all our whiteboards (in our 23 meeting rooms!). The community is big enough that people are only called on to contribute a few times a year.

It look a bit of time to get the rhythm going but now people expect it and its a great way to get community members more aware about the cleanliness of common spaces and how all of us should play a small role in keeping them up (ex: once you have to wipe down a ton of whiteboards you’re much more likely to think twice about leaving a meeting room before wiping it down).


Misha Palin, The Lab

This is part of The Lab, Oakland Handbook that everyone receives. We have nightly janitors that come and empty the trash and vacuum. But it is everyone’s responsiblity to keep the kitchen somewhat tidy.

[[#LabVandV]Vision & Values
The Lab is a coworking space filled with social change makers, non-profits, and visionaries coming together to create synergistic relationships, be inspired by each other, and network for greater social change.

We hope you feel inspired to collaborate, network, share, and uplift our growing community through office sharing, open space coworking, social meet & greets, and skill share events. We welcome your ideas and are happy to talk about anything you think might enhance The Lab experience.

Guiding Principles

We are dedicated to fostering clear, open, honest communication both creating understanding for the other while expressing honesty in a way that owns our experience and minimizes blame or judgment. We have the courage and strength to speak up when we see contradictions or inconsistencies between our behavior and our stated values and goals and are able to take feedback when given.

Through tolerance, generosity, sharing, and compassion, we work cooperatively with one another. When appropriate, we place the interests of the entire office ahead of our own self interests. We also value and trust that office members will speak their needs if there are special requests over building up silent resentment and anger. We anticipate that there will be unmet needs by some and we hope that there can be understanding around decisions being made.

Knowing that our office is fueled by the energy we give it, we actively participate in office life. We agree to share in office well being and keeping its contents looking and feeling good and safe. We quickly communicate when something is broken to its owner and take responsibility (financially or otherwise) to fix the item.

We recognize our interdependence with the building, other office members, event producers and ourselves. Our office supports an extended collaborative environment, thereby creating a sense of belonging. We support the growth of each organization individually and the relationships amongst us.

We respect personal privacy. We respect diversity in ideology, spirituality, interests, sexuality, talents, beliefs, opinions, race, age, income and we welcome respectful and appropriate expressions of that diversity within a professional environment.

Creating co-working space is an ongoing process. We remain flexible to change.

Our office is a safe place — physically and interpersonally. Everyone contributes to the safety of the space by staying emotionally clear with each member of the community, staying conscious of the space and the people we bring to the office, and upholding the values of the office as our core principles.

The Way We Work
Some aspects of our office are so strongly tied to our core values that they are considered fundamental agreements. Anyone joining the office accepts that these agreements are unlikely to ever be changed.

These agreements include:

Respect for all fellow office members:

  • Value peace and avoid violence.
  • Attend meetings and gatherings when possible.
  • Maintain good communication with office-mates.
  • Only taking what is offered; not taking what is not offered to you.
  • No excessive use of alcohol during office events.


  • Conserve electricity, gas, and water.
  • Recycle as much as possible.

Contractual Agreements:

  • Meet financial commitments to The Lab.
  • No subletting.
  • No smoking on the property.
  • No activities that may endanger our relationship with the building neighbors or management.

Departing licensees agree:

  • To pay for any repairs or cleaning they may leave undone.
  • To diligently file a change of address with post office and notify all correspondents of their change of address.
  • To leave their offices clean and undamaged.

>Also See Kitchen Section
It is everyone’s responsibility to keep our office space clean and orderly. Please keep this in mind when leaving any space you or your team uses.

You are welcome to eat and drink in the meeting rooms, or move the table to suit your meeting setup. However, once your event has ended, you are responsible for returning the room to its original state.

This includes:

  • Moving the table back to its original position.
  • Returning any furniture that may have been removed.
  • Bringing dirty dishes to the kitchen, and loading them into the dishwasher.
  • Returning any additional supplies to the appropriate closet.
  • If you had a large meal with leftover food, you are welcome to put the extra in the main kitchen. The Office Manager is happy to email staff on your behalf to offer food. If you would like to save the food for a subsequent meeting, please package, label (including date), and refrigerate it.
  • Dated food gets thrown out 1 week after the date it was put in the refrigerator. Undated food gets thrown out during the weekly clean-out.



The Kitchen

The office has two kitchens. One large kitchen with dining area and one small kitchen.

Large kitchen contains:

  • refrigerator
  • dishwasher
  • coffee maker
  • coffee and tea
  • soda stream
  • water purifier
  • dishes
  • toaster oven
  • panini press
  • electric kettle
  • pantry
  • snacks
  • microwave
Small kitchen contains:

  • refrigerator
  • dishwasher
  • coffee maker
  • Britta pitcher
  • dishes
  • electric kettle
  • coffee & tea
  • microwave

Kitchen Policy
Leave it Better than you Found it:
We appreciate you for leaving the space better than when you found it. That means doing that little extra thing to clean up, telling someone when you see something out of place, or looking in storage to find the paper towels. It could also mean picking up all the accumulated cups in your office and bringing them to the dishwasher. Or checking to see if the dishwasher is still full after the cycle and unloading it into the cabinets. All of those things will get you super gold stars!
Be Responsible:
Please take responsibility for the impact you have on the space. Try to be mindful of spills, crumbs, leftovers in the refrigerator, or how your office looks. We appreciate your responsibility.

Kitchen Supplies
The kitchens are supplied with reusable serving trays, plates, utensils and cups. Please use them as much as possible. If you want disposable plates and cups for your event you will need to supply them yourself.

Kitchen Cleanliness
Our office employs a cleaning service provided by the building, they provide only the most basic cleaning services (vacuuming, trash & recycling removal). Therefore we expect all Lab users to to keep things tidy. Below are a couple of quick and easy tips to keep our kitchen running smoothly.

  • Ensure all dirty dishes make their way into the sink and get cleaned or put in the dishwasher before you leave the kitchen.
  • If you spill something, please wipe it up and tell the Office Manager if we need to do a spot cleaning on the carpet.
  • Food in the refrigerator must be labeled with your office number, initials and date. All food will be removed every Friday by end of the day. Unclaimed containers will be left at the Lost & Found at the end of the counter in the main kitchen.

We endeavor to keep a clean office, and your help is necessary if we are to do so.


Topics Below

Shared Kitchen Etiquette

Repurposing Kitchen Query

How To Be a Shared Kitchen Pro – from The Alliance Center

Fork Forage – from The Alliance Center

See also:

Behavior Modifications – Doing the Dishes


Shared Kitchen Etiquette

From an Ask-NCN Discussion

Katie Edwards, Nonprofit Centers Network, 9/8/14
I was recently asked by a group who has recently reopened their space about best practices for shared kitchens. This is one of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about nonprofit centers, so I’d like to hear what your pain points are and what you’ve done to try to solve them. Do you rotate kitchen clean up duty among your partners? Post rules and deadlines? Give out rewards when someone unloads the dishwasher?
How have you tackled the issue of sharing a kitchen?


Ardi Korver, Region V Systems, 9/8/14
Eight agencies share the space; appx. 100 individuals are in the building. Our agency rents the building and sub-leases to the building partners. Two people/week are assigned ‘kitchen duty.’ Instructions on what they do is listed below…so maybe twice a year, each person is responsible for the weekly cleaning, i.e., dishwasher, frig, cleaning tables, etc. It works really well…and everyone helps out.


As part of our ‘Building Partner Manual’ the following is listed under a heading, “What is available to me as a building partner?”

C. Kitchen/Break Rooms

For your convenience, there is a kitchen/break room on the main-level and in the lower-level. Feel free to use the refrigerator, microwave, dishes, glasses, and silverware as well as pitchers of water and coffee for your meetings; however, please rinse and place all dirty dishes in the dishwasher when finished, and hand wash pitchers and return to the break room. The main-level kitchen/break room has a coffee machine and water cooler; the lower-level kitchen/break room has a coffee machine, water cooler, and a hot water dispenser. Please make a new pot of coffee when low or empty and replace the water bottle on the water cooler when empty.

Region V Systems strives to provide an environment that is welcoming and communal, but also respectful of all individuals. We encourage everyone to hold themselves to the following guidelines to promote such an environment:

Label the Food; Follow the Label

Whenever possible, put your name on your food or label it as “Free Food,” if it is open for others to take. If you have purchased items for a specific event, please label them clearly with the name and date of the event.

Participate in Potlucks and Other Events
For group events, participate and contribute what you are able. Participate to the level that you are comfortable. Remember, your participation is voluntary.

Share Food Gifts and Leftovers
Gifts of food to Region V Systems (i.e., from vendors) or substantial leftovers from meetings should be placed in the break room and notification sent via e-mail to Region V Systems staff and building partners that it is available. Remainders should be labeled “Free Food” and stored appropriately. Condiments not labeled with an individual or event name are for use by anyone but should not be taken home.

Consider Event Placement
When hosting an event that is not open to everyone in the building, you are encouraged to reserve a conference room and not use common space (i.e., break room). Also, be mindful to send notifications to those invited (i.e., no overhead announcement)

Keep It Clean
When hosting an event, you (or your team) are responsible for clean up afterwards. If you are participating in an event, such as a potluck, you are welcome to help clean up as well. In addition to cleaning up after ourselves, we have a schedule on a rotating basis to do basic cleaning of the kitchen/break room areas. Schedules are posted in the kitchen/break rooms with a list of duties and an e-mail reminder is sent to you at the start of your scheduled cleaning week. If the dates you are scheduled for kitchen duty do not work for you, it is your responsibility to find someone to trade with you.

What does the staff cleaning crew do:

Start and empty dishwasher.
Wipe and straighten up tables.
When needed
Recycle newspaper (main level); take to recycle room (room #158) or place in recycle box located in kitchen/break room.
Replace paper towels (new paper towels can be found in the fiscal area, see Danielle Belina).
Set out plastic ware for people to take home.
Clean microwaves.
Clean out refrigerator.
Clean sink and counter top.
Take home dishtowels/dishcloths to launder.


Christina Crawley, OpenGov Hub, 9/9/14
At the OpenGov Hub in Washington, DC, we also appreciate the kitchen tidiness issue. Because no amount of rules seem to trump (sometimes strange) human habit, we’ve opted to remain extremely light on kitchen rules and supplies. We no longer supply dishes, cups or cutlery because of the reality that dirty things are left on counters. Tenants are welcome to use recyclable coffee cups and cutlery, but any real dishes/cups/cutlery are their own responsibility. If tenants wish to bring their own dishes/cups/cutlery (and many do), they are welcome to use/store/clean them in the kitchen; however, if they are left dirty anywhere in the hub, they are simply thrown away. It seems a bit harsh, but the community agrees that cleaning is always an issue and therefore accept the warning/responsibility regarding their own kitchenware property.
Also, we do a fridge purge (we have 4 large fridges) once every 2 weeks. Tenants are given a week’s warning and only unopened drinks are allowed to stay.
Hope that’s helpful!


Maureen Moloughney, Heartwood House, 9/10/16
Thanks so much for your feedback on community kitchen cleanliness as we’ve just tightened the conditions for our kitchen as well. One of the significant changes is to limit the use of the dishwasher to community events only, rather than daily use for lunch dishes and coffee cups. These can simply be washed, dried by hand and immediately put away. Our hydro bill has reduced by a few hundred dollars per month with this simple change. We no longer permit participants from programs to go into the kitchen without a staff person and we keep the kitchen door closed. We also lock the kitchen after 4p.m. leaving members the option to access the kitchen with their key, if needed. These changes have stepped up the attention to the cleanliness of the kitchen and the efficient use of it. Everyone also knows that our reception staff keep a close eye on the kitchen throughout the day. They know who accesses the kitchen and they are on it if they find the kitchen in poor condition. We also remove unmarked items from the fridge every second Friday. If someone wants an item to stay means he/she will put his/her name on the item.


Kitchens at home and kitchens at work…..leave no room for the messy ones to just walk away and leave the cleanup to someone else!


Tom Olivas, Girl Scouts Orange County, 9/10/14
After working through a complete list of different options, we have put similar procedures to Moe’s and Christina’s in place. The dishwasher is restricted for special events, refrigerators are cleaned out every two weeks and our contracted custodian cleans the counters, tables and appliances four nights a week. This process has worked out well and eliminated a lot of frustration.




Repurposing Kitchen Query

From an Ask-NCN Discussion


Mike Gilbert, The Jones Center, 3/1/16
One of our Centers is in a former hospital. The kitchen has been used by the Community College Culinary program for the last six years and they have outgrown the space and are moving. I am looking to begin using the kitchen as shared space and need resources to research in order to develop my business plan for the space. The materials I think I need are for guidance on programming, marketing and natural partnerships. I also need the things I do not know that I need, if anyone knows what that might be!


Annette Paiement, Cotton Club Coworking & Project Space, 3/1/16
There is a space called the Kitchen Collective in Hamilton, Ontario which might prove to be a good resource. There is also another space called Roux Commissary.


Margie Zeidler, Urbanspace Property Group, 3/1/16
And here’s a super article about kitchen incubators in NYC
Some for-profit, some not-for-profit.



“How to be a Shared Kitchen Pro” from The Alliance Center

Allison Reser, Tenant & Visitor Coordinator of The Alliance Center, emailed this to the tenants:


  1. Wash, dry and put away your dishes. Bonus points if you do someone else’s dishes.
    • Next time you go to wash your dishes, go ahead and put away the dishes that are dry and wash all the dirty ones. If we all get in the habit of this, someone will return the favor.
  2. Put your name on EVERYTHING.
    • Find yourself a sharpie, and label all of your tupperware or any other personal belongings you might bring into the office. Otherwise, chances are that it will disappear into the abyss.
    • Don’t forget labeling things in the freezer!
  3. Return communal dishes to their proper place.
    • The Alliance Center supplies forks, spoons, knives, plates, bowls, cups and mugs for you to use. There are be 6-8 of each item in the kitchenettes on the upper floors, and the remainder belong in the first floor kitchen. you don’t ave to bring one up! Dishes and silverware tend to migrate up when you make your lunch on the first floor and eat it upstairs.
    • Please return Serendipity mugs to Serendipity.
    • Do not take communal dishes/silverware home!
  4. Share and eat leftovers. (We are already great at this!)
    • On the first floor, any food/beverage that’s on the community shelf in the fridge or left out on the silver tables is up for grabs. Please put the date and allergy information on leftovers you intend to share. And if you’re hungry, check here before you buy something!
    • What is the community shelf, you ask? It is the top two shelves in one of the refrigerators on the first floor. It is marked with orange tape!
  5. If you make a mess in the microwave…
    • …clean the mess in the microwave!

Rewards for a clean kitchen:
Here’s some of the things Alliance Staff will do to incentivize shared kitchen cleanliness:

  1. If you notice someone doing a lot of dishes, or doing any other random act of kindness, let us know! We will reward them!
  2. We will be adding labeling stations in the kitchens.
  3. In addition to monthly refrigerator clean-outs, we will do regular Tupperware purges, the first one starting yesterday. All unclaimed containers will be moved to the first floor and become communal. If you’d ever like to borrow tupperware, you may do so from the stash on the first floor.
  4. On April 18, you are invited to the Fork Forage. This is a catered lunch for tenants, but in order to enter, you must bring 10 forks (or other excess dishes on your floor) down to the first floor. More details to come! Reserve the time on your calendar.




Fork Forage @ The Alliance Center

(follow up to Allison’s “How to Be a Shared Kitchen Pro”)


Dear Tenants,

Cart After Dish Forage

As part of my role here at The Alliance Center, I go around to the kitchenettes on each floor periodically to clean them up. Among things like putting out clean towels, washing dirty dishes, and refilling soap, I collect dishes that have migrated upstairs and bring them back down to the first floor. Here’s what the cart typically looks like after I do this:

I need your help to maintain kitchen homeostasis!

Each kitchenette on the upper floors should have 6-8 of each communal kitchen item- small plates, large plates, bowls, FORKS, spoons, glasses and mugs. However, when you make your lunch on the first floor, eat it in your suite, and wash the dishes on your floor, you are essentially carrying kitchen items upstairs. Forks especially tend to collect on the upper floors. I’m asking for your help in bringing them back down, but I’m going to try to make it fun…​

Fork Forage
Tuesday, April 18, 12-1pm
First Floor Event Space
The Fork Forage is a free, catered lunch for tenants, but you MUST bring down 5 or more forks (or other dishes in excess) from your floor’s kitchenette down to the first floor to gain access to the meal! Here’s how it will work:

  1. On your way down to the first floor, scan your floor’s kitchenette for excess dishes. There should only be 6-8 small plates, large plates, bowls, FORKS, spoons, glasses and mugs.
  2. Grab at least 5 forks or other dishes in excess and bring them downstairs.
  3. Put the dishes away in the proper location on the first floor, and receive your meal ticket from Alliance staff.
  4. If the kitchenette on your floor already has the proper amount of small plates, large plates, bowls, FORKS, spoons, glasses and mugs (no more than 8 of each), then put away all dry dishes, wash all dirty dishes, and snap a picture (preferabbly a selfie) of your kitchenette in it’s perfectly clean state. Show this picture to Alliance staff to receive your meal ticket.
  5. Enjoy your meal in the first floor event space with fellow tenants, and don’t forget to wash your dishes and leave them on the first floor!

BONUS! Whoever finds the jewel fork (pictured below) and brings it to the first floor kitchen will receive a special prize.

Jewel Fork for Fork Forage.jpg
Add this event to your calendar

Finally, (thank you for reading this far through the email) if you have any favorite types of food or caterers, let me know! I’d like to support local, yummy restaurants for the Fork Forage if possible. Thank you!


NCN Blog Entry: What’s Your Coffee Culture?

Topics Below

Coffee for Small Spaces

Coffee for Large Spaces


Coffee for Small Spaces


From an Ask-NCN Discussion

Jenny Camhi, Leichtag Foundation, 1/4/16
Here is a very deep question for the New Year: We want to invest in a good espresso/coffee system for our Hub space. We don’t have an extremely high level of traffic, so we can use a system that just makes one cup of coffee at a time. We want this to be a system that helps “activate” the space…our goal is two fold: 1) make a great cup of coffee and 2) bring people into the kitchen to create positive collisions.

Advice?? Thanks!

Chelsea Boos, Community Programmer, Arts Habitat Edmonton, 1/5/16
here are some of the tastiest and sociable coffee methods.

David Gise, Managine Director @ Centre for Social Innovation NYC, 1/5/16
In our experience its not the machine that determines whether the cup of coffee is “great” but the coffee itself. Perhaps you can align yourself with a coffee company (provider) that aligns with your organizational values and then have them come in to do a tasting with your community.

We use a local social enterprise here in NYC (COFFEED) and they’ve done a lot to reinforce that we live our values, have helped bring our community together through tastings and sponsorship of food at various programs/events and have even been a great referral engine for new members.

Most coffee providers will also provide a machine at no (low cost) and service them for free. Analogous to a getting a free printer so you have to pay for the ink. It obviously will depend on your traffic though.

Shelby Fox, Director/Operations Manager @ Knight Nonprofit Center, 1/6/16
Our vending machine company provided a Keurig and then had a coffee and tea “pod” dispenser like a vending machine where people could buy coffee pods and then use the Keurig for free. However most people ended up brining in their own pods and not buying them so the company ended up removing it however I think that also had to do with placement on our part that it wasn’t used as intended. But the Keurig is GREAT! Then you could just go and get some coffee pods then it is a one cup at a time process and people can get what they want. If it is semi high traffic of mostly visitors I would suggest going the vendor route however if it is mostly everyday tenants you are trying to encourage to get together then you could buy the machine and provide sweetener etc and maybe take turns purchasing the coffee or depending on your budget buy it for a while and see if it is being utilized correctly. I have not done it yet but want to set up a “coffee and collaboration corner” somewhere in my building to encourage this also. Let me know what you decide!

Jimmy Martin, Facilities Director @ Chicago Literacy Alliance, 1/6/16
The Literacenter employs a single-use machine from Mars called the Barista. It’s the largest unit they offer, but they have smaller versions. You can buy them or you can go through a vending company who will then service them as needed. They use single packets, similar to Kuerig, but these are recyclable through Mars. You can usually get the Flavia packets through a vendor cheaper than buying them online, also.

The coffee is good for what it is and the machines work quite well as long as the packets are emptied regularly. We haven’t had an issue we couldn’t resolve on our own or with a little phone support. The only issues we’ve had have been user error related, as most things usually are.

The Flavia packets are approximately $0.50 a pop, but you as the facility operator never have to worry about cleanup or preparation other than having the packets available for your members. Plus, the machine looks great wherever it is.


Alexis Paza, Community Catalyzer @ Tides, 1/6/16
If a center is looking at single-serving coffee machines, I’d strongly recommend searching for an alternative to “K-Cups”, like the Mars version from Literacenter highlighted below. Keurig, owned by Green Mountain and maker of K-Cups, has committed to making a fully recyclable K-Cup by 2020, but for now 13 billion+ end up in a landfill every year. Even if each user does the work of breaking down each cup (grounds, plastic, and foil) after use, most communities in the US do not have recycling facilities to handle the kind of plastic currently used for the cups (plastic #7).

Both the Atlantic and Mother Jones have done some great write-ups on K-Cups, if interested.

Robert Zeidler, President @ The Cotton Factory, 1/6/16
A good friend of mine has created a very successful coffee roasting company over the last 5 years. ( One thing he emphasises is that the grinder is just as important as the actual coffee machine. You should read his comments and think about your choice of grinder (

I would also ask you to think twice before buying any system that generated the volume of non-recyclable plastic that the Keurig system does. There are other one cup options. If you are in any way concerned about the environment, you will be shocked at the volume of waste these coffee systems generate.

Shelby Bradbury@ Sierra Health Foundation, 1/8/16
We hire a local coffee vending company, for example:

There are currently 18 organizations (80 +/- individuals) of various sizes at our center. The committee that organizes the day to day happenings arranged a system of payment by dividing up each month of the year to be paid by one large group or several smaller groups. These supplies are to be used only by the tenants and any meetings must be supplied separately by the hosting organization.

The monthly delivery is coffee, tea, sugar/sweeteners, creamers and filters for two break rooms. Each break room was equipped with a coffee maker and air pots to dispense.

This system has worked very well for the 7 years that we have been here. The monthly totals are $375-475 depending on how much they use each month.




Coffee for Large Spaces


From an Ask-NCN Discussion

Nada Zohdy, Open GovHub, 6/7/2016
I’m emailing to ask about something that probably dictates most of our work lives: coffee.
I’m curious to know what kind of coffee machines/makers you all use, particularly machine in large shared spaces?
Our 20,000 sq ft center has 160 desks plus lots of visitors coming in an out on a regular basis, so the machine gets lots of use.
We currently have a Peet’s ‘bean to cup’ brewing machine that grinds coffee beans for each cup and offers coffee, espresso, cappucino, hot chocolate, etc. But it seems not a week goes by when we don’t have some kind of functioning error.
As you can imagine, coffee machine dysfunction can be a major source of tenant dissatisfaction!
Does anyone have any recommendations for a machine with a variety of coffee drink options that can withstand frequent use with minimal dysfunction and maintenance (and hopefully isn’t too costly)??

James Thomson, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives @ New Path Foundation, 6/7/16
Here at our common roof locations we just use commercial grade coffee makers with carafes; they are supplied by a local company who maintains them and drops off supplies (i.e. coffee pouches and filters). We purchase cream, milk, sugar, stir sticks, etc. The cost for this is billed back to the tenants who have agreed to share equally; those not wishing to be a part of this pay on a per use basis. Everyone shares in the responsibility of making coffee as the need arises…our reception staff usually get the first pot of the morning and then staff from the tenant organizations make additional pots throughout the day. We chose to stay away from the more fancier machines that make a variety of drink options over concerns regarding upkeep, maintenance, etc.

Jimmy Martin, 6/7/16
Our space is similar in size to yours, and we’ve had some success with the Mars Barista. This unit uses Flavia packets which make it similar to a Keurig, but with the option to recycle the packets. We choose this option, but the cost and effort adds up. The machine itself is very dependable, and maintenance is simply removing a jammed packet every now and then when someone doesn’t empty the used packet bin when prompted. We’ve had two units for over a year and have experienced very few issues.

Pros – lots of options, very little work to maintain, looks great, very impressive

Cons – brewed cups are small, so people brew double to compensate (increasing expense), lots of work and some cost to recycle packets, sometimes confuses/intimidates new users (not immediately intuitive)

We’re currently considering a move, however, to a different brewer that uses simple, fully biodegradable coffee pods. We’re looking to improve the coffee flavor/cup size and reduce cost.

Rebecca Landau, Property Manager @ Urban Land Conservancy, 6/8/16
In my previous office, we had a large, impressive Starbucks machine, but the coffee was ridiculously expensive and the machine seemed to breakdown frequently. We also had to purchase filter paper for it. Ultimately we went to a Keurig machine which was piped directly to the water source. We ordered the coffee from Amazon and it was shipped for free to the office. There is a company that has figured out a way to recycle the pods. You order a bin (which you pay for) and then when it is full your ship it in for free.

This turned out to be much more inexpensive, and there was no coffee wasted. You can of course, also brew tea, chai, and hot chocolate in the machine.



NCN Webinar I Back Office Alternatives: What You Need to Know About Shared Services

See NCN Shared Services Publications here.


Topics Below

Pricing for Back Office Services
Shared Services Costs
Mailboxes/Mail Delivery
Printing Charges
Best Printer/Printing Company

Pricing for Back Office Services

From an Ask-NCN Discussion


Katie Edwards, Nonprofit Centers Network, 2/3/15
Another member question came across my desk, and I want to make sure I have up-to-date information to share. Would you be willing to share your pricing schedule for back office services (mail service, phones, storage, IT support, etc)? Are these services included as a part of your rent, your CAM Charges, or are they a la carte?

Thanks so much!


Stephanie FallCreek, Fairhill Partners, 2/3/15
Mail service included in lease. All else a la carte for us though often negotiated during the lease negotiation phase.


Ardi Korver, Region V Services, 2/3/15
Reception, mail service, and copiers are provided. All tenants have a code for outgoing mail and copying service which is billed monthly.

Use of conference rooms, coffee, parking, cleaning, utilities is included in the rent.

Phones, IT support, fiscal and HR support, storage, is a la carte.


Mike Gilbert, The Jones Center, 2/3/15

We have lobby mailboxes for all of our community partners.
Each building has wireless internet throughout, dedicated internet is available through the local providers.
We do not offer telephone service.
Our IT tech is available on an “if available” status to partners at no cost.
We offer storage in our basement at no charge. Each partner has a 10 x 20 fenced storage cube.
Conference and training space is no cost, reserved by partners as needed. (we have many rooms and no issues with availability.)

We are fortunate to have large enough space for fundraising events. Partners get one per year if available and a second event after all partners have had one or declined.


Christina Crawley, OpenGov Hub 2/4/15
We try to keep most services in the base rent to keep things simple: – Coffee/tea/water, storage, secure access, HVAC and meeting room space is included in the per-desk base rent ($500-$625/desk per month – which is below the Washington DC market rate)

– We have a mandatory add-on ‘community fee’ per desk as well to go towards a sort of petty cash fund for unanticipated repairs and to simplify social event expenses ($5/desk per month)

Add-ons are for optional services:
– Printing is separate as some groups have their own small printers ($15/desk per month)
– IT is separate as many groups don’t need this kind of support ($15/desk per month)

Parking is separate and managed by an external company.

Hope that’s helpful!

Shared Services Costs

Ask-NCN 12.6.17


Kim Jones, Nonprofit Village
The Nonprofit Village has full service and virtual members in our shared space. As we plan for a relocation to a new site in 2018, we now plan to incorporate a few shared back office services such as bookkeeping, HR and IT. In the future we will consider communications/marketing/design, and other areas. What is your experience with back office operations? Do you contract with the vendor, asking for a reduced rate in exchange for a set amount of business? Do any shared spaces use back office operations to generate additional revenue or is the service charge pass through from the tenant to the vendor, through the shared space? Appreciate any best practices or alerts about challenges in offering shared services.


Lucinda Kerschensteiner, Center for Social Change
We happen to have a PT bookkeeper on staff for our sister company who we have offered out to members on a shared services basis. We have had a couple members express an interest in using her someday (so we have not earned $$ from it yet). We just charge the members for her hourly rate (what we pay her) + 10% (or so) which is an affordable rate. We also have a few members who provide professional services and in exchange for a discounted membership, they agree to provide probono services to our members (in a limited fashion). I’m curious what others offer, too.


Mailboxes/Mail Delivery

From an Ask-NCN Discussion


Nada Zohdy, OpenGov Hub, 2/4/16
We’ve been hand delivering mail to each person’s desk, but this has been very inefficient so we’re looking to install mailboxes and just wondering if anyone has taken any creative/interesting approaches beyond just traditional mailbox slots.
How do you handle mail in your center? Any creative approaches? Pictures welcome!


Dustin Barrington, HNS Life Center, 2/4/16
Not to be a Scrooge, but we chose not to be “creative” to avoid issues by making each organization responsible for their own mail.

We purchased a USPS approved, front loading ‘18box – 2 package’ horizontal mailbox cluster with a cabinet style enclosure through Salsbury Industries. Their URL is<>

We then registered each tenant suite separately with the local building department and US Post office.

We placed our cluster in a warm lobby for the convenience of our tenants but found later that the USPS delivery schedule did not always line up with our regular business and therefore deliveries were missed. We recently relocated it outside in the cold…

We wish that we had picked a cluster option that had slots in the doors to each box so that tenants could also use this to communicate with each other…

I hope that is a useful angle to consider.


Angela Baldrige, The Plantory, 2/5/16
We just use a big filing cabinet with folders for each of our members. It sits by the front desk. We put their mail in their folders and they check them at their convenience. We leave packages at their locations or put a note in their file folder if it needs to be picked up at the front desk.


Erin Prefontaine, Jerry Forbes Centre Foundation, 2/5/16
We’re in the operations planning stage for our new home and are leaning toward making each organization responsible for their own mail as well.

When we forecast the potential volume and issues of delivering it in-house, a good option looks like a mailbox cluster.

We will also be dealing with very cold winter weather, and possible delivery scheduling so will have to see what options are available via Canada Post.

I’d love to hear more on what other organizations with a distinct winter season and delivery scheduling conflicts are doing.


Cheryl, Artspace Inc., 2/5/16
We’re located in Winnipeg, and have pretty frigid winters as well.

We have a standard mailbox cluster located inside our building lobby for regular mail deliveries from Canada Post, which our members are responsible for. We also have an internal mailroom on the 4th floor in our shared-use copy centre (which includes copying, scanning, postage meter, etc.). Any packages/courier deliveries are received by our office admin staff and are placed in the mail room for our members to pick up. All our members have keys to the internal mail room so they can access their deliveries at any hour.


James Thomson, New Path Foundation, 2/5/16
At both of our shared space locations we have a back office behind our reception desk that houses the mail slots for each respective organization. As mail is delivered to our reception staff directly (one point of contact), they in turn place mail in the respective mail slot for each organization. The organization in turn is responsible for checking the mail slot on a frequent basis (they have a key to access this room). If packages are delivered (UPS, Purolator, etc.), our reception staff signs for the delivery and then directly notifies the organization that there is a pick up waiting; the package is placed in the back office on a counter awaiting pick up.


Ask-NCN Conversation 11.14.17


Elin Ross, Federated Charities
We have a co-work space within our larger multi-tenant space and I’m wondering how everyone handles the physical mailbox when you’re dealing with a co-work/shared space situation. Does all the mail come to a single box and you sort it for your co-work tenants? Something else?


Andy Neal, STAR Center
At The STAR Center, we invested in a larger multi box unit that attaches to the wall in the entryway. Each occupant has their own receptacle.


Ask-NCN 3/2/2017


Jenny Camhi, Leichtag Foundation
We are in the process of transitioning from a free space to a paid center. Up until now, we have offered unlimited free printing. We have now implemented a system to keep track of people’s printing and have told everyone that the first 500 prints are free, but after that we will bill. What do you all charge (if at all) for printing?


Bria Brown, Community Shares of Wisconsin
We have a couple of types of membership but for one:


  • Per copy cost – Black & White $0.06 each, Color $0.12 each.

And for the other:


  • Per copy cost – Black & White $0.08 each, Color $0.25 each.


For both, they have a printer code and we send an invoice monthly.


Lillian Gutierrez, The Alliance Voice of Community Nonprofits
We charge the following:
Copy/Print/Fax Costs:
0.05 Black and White per print/copy/fax cost (faxing out no cost)
0.10 Color print/copy/fax cost (faxing out no cost)


Kim McNamer, Consultant
Our copy prices were low. I can’t fully recall exactly what they were because the couple centers we had were priced slightly different, but I think they were no more than $0.5 for black and white and $0.10 color. They didn’t get any freebies, but we bought all the reams of white paper for the leased machines.


Nada Zohdy, OpenGov Hub
We literally just went through this process 🙂 We charge $15 per month per person for unlimited black and white copies/prints and 20 color copies/prints per person per month. Then any additional color pages are charged at 5 cents per page (which is the actual rate we pay).


Mike Gilbert, The Jones Trust
We pass through the cost of all copies. We are .03 for b/w and .07 color


Marc Kondrup, Midland Shared Spaces
We charge per click: $.05 for b/w, and $.13 for color. That covers the click cost + maintenance agreement charge + all paper for the two shared machines.


Diana Higuerra, Aurora Welcome Center
We charge:

Black and White: $0.009/copy
Color: $0.10
But it also depends on how much is the cost to you.

Best Printer/Printing Company

Ask-NCN 4/21/2017

Champagne Huges, The Flight Deck
We’re looking for printing company and looking for referrals. We’d like to have a printer that is suitable for our co-working space, handles bulk printing, and can code (for tracking prints for different companies).

If you can, can you let us know if you’re renting your printer? Did you buy it? If so, how much does it cost? Also, are you charging your co-workers per print or is it a part of their membership?
Details are highly requested but not required. 🙂

Diana Higuerra, Aurora Welcome Center
We went from a konica-minolta, which was good to a Kyocera that is working great for us. We decided to get our leasing from a local vendor that has great service and the response time on ink and others is 1 day.

We give our tenants a number of free copies black and white, depending on the square footage they occupy. For the extra copies they pay $0.009/copy. Color copies are $0.10/copy. Some of the leasing companies give you the first 10,000/month for free. We are currently paying for what we make.


From an Ask-NCN Discussion 9/21/16


Deeter Schurig, cSpace
We’re beginning our search into ATM’s as a possible revenue source and convenience for visitors to our arts hub. As our centre is several blocks from a commercial area, we thought providing the option for cash for visitor might warrant consideration as well as another revenue source to support our cost recovery operations.

My question is whether anyone has an any advice, concerns or recommended vendors when it comes to ATM in their multi tenant centre? Are there companies that are supportive of NPO missions and keep fees reasonable? Are there installation, security, or management concerns related to these units?


Annette Paiement, The Cotton Factory
We do use an ATM. We have had to carefully monitor as there has been a situation where the ATM wasn’t filled with money, it was giving an out of order message, however taking $2.00 from our clients bank accounts.

It is an amazing add to the building as there is not a bank or ATM anywhere within walking distance of our facility.


Jimmy Martin, Chicago Literacy Alliance

What’s the process for partnering with a company/bank to have one installed?


Annette Paiement

I just reached out directly to a private ATM company. They had two different agreements which I could choose from. We did not want to purchase a machine as it was not in our budget, so we choose an option where they paid us a percentage of each transaction. We also decided to keep this percentage minimal as we did not want to take advantage of our tenants. Having a service to provide them was of greater importance.

I have a questions for everyone, can you provide me with any feedback you have around facility security. Specifically, what is your procedure for after hour emergencies. Who do your coworkers call? Do you use an answering service? Do you pay an on call staff person to deal with after hour concerns.

Would love to hear from anyone who has feedback as we build our policies and procedures.


Jenny Camhi, Leichtag Foundation

My husband is the ATM business. If you have any questions about the revenue a machine can bring in or the best way to set up a machine, please don’t hesitate to call ATM Depot and ask for Jeremy Camhi. Please let him know you are a colleague of mine. They are based here in Encinitas, CA, but they service machines all over the US; (760) 512-4124

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