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Why Nonprofits Should Own Their Own Space

June 26, 2019 by Katie Edwards0

NCN’s Steering Committee Member Saul Ettlin, a real estate consultant for Community Vision in San Francisco, CA, was recently featured in Shelterforce Magazine’s Spring 2019 issue. His article “Buying Power: Why Nonprofits Should Own Their Own Space” highlights four important reasons that locally-based organizations should own a building where they work.  Saul writes:

Nonprofits, and the wide range of human, social, cultural, and artistic services they provide, can be critical to anchoring communities and stabilizing neighborhoods. When they’re invested in the place in which they’re located, nonprofits become important hubs that create opportunities for those they serve; they lift up voices, and build placed-based power. For these groups to be successful in meeting their missions, they must be resilient themselves.

While funding, recruiting, and retaining talent (both staff and board) likely top most organizations’ list of sustainability challenges, physical space is also a key factor. In fact, for most organizations, occupancy is the second-largest operating expense. Given the high cost of space, minimizing and stabilizing occupancy costs can be a useful budget strategy. Sometimes organizations are able to achieve this by leasing space at below market rate from a public agency, friendly owner, or nonprofit center that has affordable rents as part of its mission. More frequently, organizations achieve this by leasing less desirable space, which may achieve their financial goal, but it could also hinder an organization in other ways.

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About Our Blogger:

Katie Edwards

Katie connects NCN members with the resources they need to make their projects a success. She holds an M.P.A. in Nonprofit Management from Indiana University, where she studied nonprofit co-location as part of her coursework. Katie’s research background and her first-hand experience with the Co-location Task Force for the Indianapolis’ Early Intervention and Prevention Initiative give her a unique perspective on shared spaces and nonprofit centers.

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