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21/May/2018

I love that NCN is a peer resourced community. We gain so much through our members sharing their experiences and knowledge with each other. Our new, member only Ask-NCN Live Zoom calls continue to build on that premise. In March, we focused on building buzz: what makes your space the place people want to be? The multiple employees representing seven organizations, from development stages to highly established, had lots to share - from clever nuggets to big picture. Here are some of those noteworthy takeaways. When groundbreaking is delayed, how do you communicate that things are still happening? Centre for Social Innovation talked about the pop-up space they had at their New York location before and during construction. This likely helped market the coming space and gave the community a taste of something to look forward to. Two spaces also gave tours or threw a mini party, with hard-hats as necessary, as soon as the space was safe to enter, but before completion. This produced some great photo-ops and having your Governor (John Hickenlooper) in the pic ain't bad either. Posner Center for International Development shared one of their marketing strategies: photos of what the space was before; for them it was a horse barn turned storage facility for horse-drawn carts and trailers. You can see some of these below.


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Food Central Cowork is the only value-added agriculture and food-focused coworking hub in Western Canada. Access our shared co-working space, meeting rooms, kitchen and lounge area, or participate in programs to help you grow your business, get invites to industry events, and discounted panels and workshops. Food Central brings entrepreneurs, service providers, academic institutions and enthusiasts together to pursue their goals, collaborate and scale businesses.


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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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30/Apr/2018

We are reviewing proposals for Sharing Innovation, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what innovation means to us at The Nonprofit Centers Network.  The dictionary definition of the word “Innovate” is to “make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.” Sharing resources is an innovation in and of itself. For so long, we have been told that success looks like a nonprofit with a large staff, a building, and a strong back office. However, based on our recent research, many nonprofits don’t need that degree of capacity.  Efficiency and effectiveness is about having the right tools for the job when you need them.


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ReCity Network is a bold venture, serving as a catalyst for innovation and collaboration among non-profits, mission-driven businesses, and faith-based organizations. As Durham's hub for social impact, we leverage our facility and network to unite the work of these programs by eliminating silos and creating collaboration that results in meaningful, systemic, and transforming change for Durham's community. The collaborative, community-based solutions that arise will leave the Bull City poised for a new generation of shared success.


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Saul Ettlin
09/Apr/2018

The physical spaces nonprofits utilize play a key supporting role in the success of organizations, from specialized program space anchored in their communities to having quality, affordable administrative space that promotes collaboration and attracts and retains talent. However, many nonprofits face a myriad of challenges when it comes to having the program and/or office space that best meets their needs.  Nonprofits can face: Acquisition Challenges. Generally, the commercial real estate market, and its capital, moves fast. In contrast, nonprofits take time to assemble resources Development Challenges. When nonprofits do acquire space, the leader of the organization often becomes an accidental developer, slowing down projects and possibly adding costs. Leasing Challenges. When rents are on a fast-paced rise, nonprofits can find themselves vulnerable. Ownership Challenges. Owning a building can be like running a program. It has a budget, needs dedicated staff and has financial and other metrics to be measured by. Nonprofit Real Estate Holding Entity as a Solution Traditionally, a real estate holding entity mitigates risk associated with the ownership of real estate assets. Here, the goal it is to bring expertise to the development and operation of nonprofit space that caters its design for and welcomes the types of uses the sector provides. These holding entities can:


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Chelsea Donohoe
26/Mar/2018

We’re so excited…and we don’t have to hide it! NCN has received a $55,000 grant from Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative. It will fund the research and publication of Rethinking Overhead: Daring to Share Resources and Strengthening the Safety Net: Human Services Under One Roof. This project will combine qualitative research focused on Human Services centers and Shared Services organizations to establish best practices for creating, maintaining, and growing these unique capacity building programs. Our current research shows shared space and services create environments for collective impact, increase nonprofit effectiveness, and spur innovation. We know collaborative organizations work together differently and develop cutting-edge solutions for their clients that would be otherwise impossible if they remained siloed. While our 2010 Shared Services Guide remains relevant (and popular), we think it’s time for an update. This research project will further evaluate the efficiency of current shared spaces and let us continue to serve as a thought leader for you--our community. We’re taking your feedback into consideration and making this type of resource even better. The nonprofit sector has changed so much over the past eight years, and we want to take advantage of this opportunity to lead the evolution of nonprofit shared space.


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Paul Evensen
12/Mar/2018

Donors and co-locating agencies create projects in pursuit of more than one of six benefits. Typical combinations include the desire to both enhance access and to strengthen partnering agencies. The hope: to strengthen agencies that have a shared mission. The goal: simultaneously promoting sustainability and innovation. These are only the most common combinations. When done well, all real estate and location decisions are made with the intention of building community. However, the attempt to aid neighborhood development alone without careful consideration of the "mission benefit" of colocation first can have a profoundly negative consequence for non-profit organizations. At the inducement of neighborhood leaders, non-profits can feel compelled to move to locations that do not enhance their ability to deliver on mission. To borrow a phrase from the movie Field of Dreams - if we build a new community services center they will indeed come. Unfortunately, they may come for the wrong reasons and the project is likely to be unsustainable.


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Through collaboration and the development of formal and informal partnerships within the greater community, Heartwood House serves the residents of Ottawa who are marginalized, living in poverty, and/or in need of educational, mental health, emotional, physical, economic, employment, training or recreational support – Heartwood House provides an affordable, accessible workplace for small non-profit and charitable organizations to enable them to maximize their services through a mutually supportive hospitable and empowering environment for their clients and participants.

Our Member groups provide a wide range of services, information, networking and skill development opportunities to low income adults and families, new immigrants, people with differing abilities, people improving literacy or spoken English skills, people needing health and mental health supports, and people developing new employment, personal, or artistic skills.

What is one interesting fact about your space?

We strive to achieve positive community outcomes and earn revenues to support sustainability.
Heartwood House and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ottawa enjoy a highly successful partnership in the ownership of the property at 400-412 McArthur Avenue. Heartwood owns 87.5% and the Unitarians 12.5% of the building.

Heartwood House is also home to two other successful partnerships: the OC Transpo Lost & Found and the Everybody Wins! Electronics Recycling Program. Income generated is used to help support the work of the Heartwood community.

What are your favorite resources that you would recommend to others?

Our greatest resource is our Member groups. We are constantly looking for opportunities to share knowledge and expertise between one another so that we can learn from experience while being invested in sharing ideas.

We have learned that it takes intentional effort to build trust and community and that it takes time. By investing the time and energy there seems to be greater levels of engagement to share these resources and expertise. We are better together!

Center Name: Heartwood House

Location: Ontario, Canada

Center Website: www.heartwoodhouse.ca

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25/Feb/2018

“Open for you, and you and you…” is the tagline for one of our Canadian members, Community Door in Brampton, Ontario. It is a fitting message for so many of our centers (and centres!) across North America. A place where you can find healing for what ails you. A place that takes you in as you are and diligently works to keep you as safe as possible. This last statement was the theme that emerged from our first Live Ask-NCN Zoom call for members that was focused on Risk Management. I actually expected the conversation to steer more towards the somewhat dull, but necessary details of what it takes to manage a space, filling vacancies, collecting timely rent and more. Instead, improving safety was the top concern for most spaces. People wanted to know how best to communicate imminent dangers, how to report incidents, and how to keep communication lines open with tenants and community.  One member is witnessing the opioid epidemic first hand in their very welcoming and open community space. While their bathrooms provide an opportunity for someone off the street to clean up, other times it is a collection site for needles from their illicit substance usage.  All participants stressed the need, and struggle, for their space to be both open and safe. Here are the suggestions that emerged:


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