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Chelsea Donohoe
01/Oct/2019

Are you curious about the latest strategies in nonprofit shared space? Would you like to read a “how to” guide developed by respected experts in the field? Check out the award-winning book Shared Space and the New Nonprofit Workplace. It’s not just our team that thinks the book is spectacular – we’ve read it cover to cover. The book has won the prestigious 2019 Terry McAdam Book Award for the best nonprofit book of the year. Here’s a little more info…


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24/Sep/2019

Over the past year the Nonprofit Centers Network’s consulting team has been working hard to support our members and client organizations while also building our internal capacity. I’d like to take a few minutes to update you about our progress not so much to toot NCN’s horn but rather to ensure that we are on the same page about our current priorities and plans for the coming year. What has the consulting team been up to lately? In short, a lot. We offered project-based consulting services, coaching, meeting facilitation and customized training opportunities to:


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Michaell Rose, DrPH, L.C.S.W., Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, Newport Beach, CA
27/Aug/2019

The role of the hospital is growing. With the continued trend towards population health and diagnosing root causes, rather than only treating the symptoms, hospitals are being forced play larger roles in the health of their patients. As the healthcare industry shifts towards understanding the social determinants of health and adverse childhood experiences (ACES), the previously siloed institutions are no longer the standards in healthcare. The hospital must adapt, and look outside of its walls to better treat the health of its patients. For nonprofit hospitals, looking outside of the hospital walls have always been standard. Through Community Benefit, nonprofit hospitals have been charged with improving the health and well-being of the community. At Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian (Hoag), the opportunity to create a model to address the social and health needs of the community aligned to develop the Melinda Hoag Smith Center for Healthy Living (MHSCHL).


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Heather Hiscox, Pause for Change, Tucson, AZ
12/Aug/2019

Think about the last time you created or joined a collaborative project or partnership. In my most recent experience I felt optimistic, excited, and hopeful. I also felt scared, territorial, and skeptical. My hope was about how the collective skills contributed by each partner would elevate the work, and my fear was about how my organization’s name and my hard work might get lost in the mix. I also felt a bit of distrust with some of the organizations in the room. None of these feelings were outwardly expressed as I sat around the table. What we discussed was the work of each of our organizations and gaps that we saw in our community that perhaps our collective effort could help to address. While this was a start to identify new or enhanced potential programs, services, etc., I was reminded of the early foundation-building steps that are often missed in a new collaborative effort: empathy and experimentation. Empathy provides the foundation of deep and authentic understanding between collaborative partners and experimentation tests the behaviors you need to see in order to achieve success. What if we asked new questions of one another and what if we held each other accountable in new ways?


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Allandra Bulger Executive Director, Co.act Detroit and Nicole de Beaufort EarlyWorks Founder & President
05/Aug/2019

In the context of increased community need and funding constraints, organizations often feel stuck when it comes to collaboration. Sector dynamics often pit organizations against each other competing for funding, external awareness, and the vocal community ambassadors that can give voice to their respective issue. And, the ever-changing nonprofit landscape is a constant journey, and one in which individual organizations often travel alone. Many of Southeast Michigan’s most pressing challenges and opportunities are connected and realizing impact requires a collective approach, a diversity of perspectives and ideas, and coordination across efforts. The status quo needs to be flipped to one that moves away from organizations chasing dollars to one that would stimulate community-level problem solving and collaborative action.


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Brad Wood, River Valley Resources, Madison, IN
08/Jul/2019

We are excited that today’s blog author will be featured as one of 8 presentations at this year’s Sharing Innovation 2019. Like what you read? Register today at www.nonprofitcenters.org/sharing

Stop, collaborate and listen – more than just the lyrics to a popular song from the ‘90s, the Clearinghouse of Jefferson County Indiana has taken these words to heart. Since its inception in 2007, the Clearinghouse team has been through a series of peaks and valleys, always focused on the end goal of creating a larger network of social change. Created as a multi-tenant facility where workforce development entities and community agencies live and work under one roof, the Clearinghouse was the brainchild of River Valley Resources (RVR). Originally founded to provide workforce development services, RVR’s mission has grown to include a variety of services to help individuals become self-sustaining. The organization currently provides education and training services in 17 Indiana counties and employs more than 80 people.

These three words – stop, collaborate, and listen – have been an integral part of RVR’s process to create and sustain a vision of building a network of community partners all working together to help individuals become self-reliant.

It seems counter-intuitive that the process starts with the word stop. But over the years, we have learned that it is by stopping to assess what’s around us and responding accordingly that true magic begins. Sometimes, in such a large organization with multiple services, we can get so caught up in what we are doing as individuals that we don’t stop to recognize where others can add value. It is by practicing the pause that organizations discover there is more than enough if we all sit at the same table.

Stopping also shifts focus from a singular mission to one that is expansive and eliminates the duplication of efforts. Because we have practiced the art of stopping to collaborate and listen, our relationships are non-competitive, holistic, and client centric. We have a deep knowledge and understanding of what each member of our team provides, allowing us to link clients to the services that best meet their needs. We put this in practice by holding a monthly Clearinghouse meeting where each team is represented and has a voice. We use this time to talk about upcoming programs, events, and new partnerships that are mutually beneficial to the mission of assisting clients in becoming self-dependent.

As important as it is to stop, it would be pointless without a genuine focus on collaboration. It is one thing to share space with other organizations involved in similar work. However, it is another thing entirely to set the ego aside and approach each conversation from a place of needing to understand the perspective of the other party. When we can free ourselves from our ego, it opens up a whole new channel to see a clearer picture of the work we are all part of. This clear picture allows us to see how all of the pieces fit and how we are all connected as agents of change.

A perfect example of this is something we call the Madison Model. In Madison, we have a female correctional facility that focuses on re-entry. We sat down with their administrators and the local community college to find a way to integrate these women into our community during their pre-release. Through listening to their needs, we developed a transitions model that helps them learn job readiness skills and earn a certification in high wage, high demand occupations. This prison partnership extends to helping feed hungry kids through the Summer Meals program, and is the only one in the nation that has a partnership with a correctional facility. The women volunteers love giving back to the community and one said, “I love volunteering because I know my kids receive free summer meals back home.”

This collaborative effort would not have been possible without the patience of listening. These out-of-the-box ideas can only come to fruition when we are not dismissive of things that have never been done before. As we teach our students in the transitions class, effective communication utilizes three strategies to positively address issues and nurture a relationship of equals – communicate purposefully, communicate honestly, and communicate responsibly[1]. We have found that listening, when paired with this style of communication, leads to our most successful projects.

It’s easy to say all this, but practicing it is another story. This is especially true in rural communities where resource scarcity is a reality. But as we continue to grow our network, we realize that we don’t have to do this work alone. It is a beautiful thing that we can focus on our piece and trust that our partners will continue to do their part well too. There is a quote by Brene Brown that says, “Opposite of scarcity is not abundance, it’s simply enough.” When we stop, collaborate, and listen we don’t have to solve the problems of the whole world at once. We do what we can with what we have and it is simply enough.

[1] “Employing Interdependence.” On Course: Study Skills Plus, by Skip Downing, Wadsworth, 2016, pp. 135-162.


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10/Jun/2019

Recently I was very fortunate to tag along with a delegation of incredible community and student leaders from the Boston area who participate in the Solidarity Economy Initiative and Center for Economic Democracy and Tufts New Economy. Together we visited Montreal to learn from practitioners about local efforts to build the social or solidarity economy. Speaking with local practitioners, we learned about an available apartment designated specifically “for someone who will never earn income again;” a seasonal, manufactured, beach front - designed on land used to store snow in winter – that boosts social engagement and enjoyment of the coast; and a flourishing farmer’s marketplace that offers community lunch and movie nights. Our visit included time spent with:


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Dr. Tammy Butler
09/Jul/2018

Utilizing the social ecological model (SEM) as a framework, this model recognizes the relationships that exist between an individual and his or her environment within and across various systems. The levels within the SEM include: (a) individual, (b) interpersonal (social networks), (c) community (formal and informal social networks), (d) societal (social institutions), and (e) political (public policy). The model addresses the complexities and interdependences between the socioeconomic, cultural, political, environmental, organizational, psychological, and biological determinants of behavior (Stokols, 1996). The application of the social ecological model identifies various differential constraints and opportunities for accessing social, financial, and community resources when situated within each of the social systems.


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07/May/2018

As we prepare for Sharing Innovation 2018 in October, we thought we'd take a trip down memory lane to our 2017 event. Whether you missed last year or need a little convincing to attend this year (as if!?), check out the first of our four Sharing Innovation 2017 Blog Video Series below. With two speakers each over last year's themes of Technology for Collaboration, Adaptive Partnerships, Smart Growth and Sustainability, we're certain you'll walk away with not only some fresh innovative ideas, but also the desire to (re)connect with the NCN community this October! So without further ado, this week we focus on…


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Saul Ettlin
13/Mar/2017

When I lived in Toronto, I worked for an organization that made its home at the Centre for Social Innovation. The Centre had been open for just a few months, and it was great to be a participant in the burgeoning space as the tenant community gelled and management explored how it was going to best meet the needs of the center’s community. As someone who has spent much of their working life in nonprofits and studying nonprofit management, I was quickly hooked on this model of nonprofit shared space that looks to create efficiencies through shared amenities/office services and bolster effectiveness through peer learning and collaboration between tenant community members.


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