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14/Jun/2016

Recently I’ve read a lot of articles about the dark side of collaboration and how collaborations can fall apart. I don’t disagree – collaboration is hard and we often don’t have the tools to get it right. La Piana’s article speaks to the challenges of the nonprofit competitive environment and the often ineffective processes around collaboration – sometimes not resulting in any real decisions being made. These are great points.


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25/May/2016

A recent question on Ask-NCN reminded me of a workshop I attended during our 2015 Building Opportunities Conference in Vancouver, BC on Identifying and Managing Risk in Social Purpose Real Estate. The presenter that resonated most with me was Mandy Hansen of Insight Specialty Consulting, who focused on ways that you can understand risk, especially risk from partnership. She suggested that all social purpose real estate projects (including nonprofit centers) conduct a “Risk Workshop,” a constructive way to assess potential issues. Here are the 4 steps to run your own Risk Workshop...


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09/May/2016

Facilitating Energize: High Impact Shared Spaces in Philadelphia was the highlight of the month of April from me. It is rare that we have so many practitioners from all across the country in one room – the energy is amazing! As we planned the curriculum, we wanted to make sure that there was plenty of time for peer learning.


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03/May/2016

Just back from an action-packed week in Philadelphia! We had a sold-out Energize training on Wednesday and the mix of long-standing centers and new projects was invigorating! On Thursday, we piloted Streamlining Social Good: Overcoming Barriers to Nonprofit Resource Sharing. A terrific group of speakers, moderated by Syon Bhanot of Swarthmore College, led us through lots of concepts nonprofits don’t usually contemplate. Here are my take-aways...


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25/Apr/2016

When I’m traveling, I like to stop by and visit our members when I can. To date, I’ve visited 41 different nonprofit centers around the US and Canada – of course, Denver has a slew of shared spaces, so it’s easy to rack up the numbers. Most recently I was in Northern Kentucky, and I stopped by The Clearinghouse, cSpace, and The Plantory in an epic shared space road trip.


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04/Apr/2016

I am intrigued by Andrew Stern’s article in the latest Stanford Social Innovation Review titled, No Exit The Case for Nonprofit Holding Companies. It dovetails with our upcoming event in Philadelphia, Streamlining Social Good on April 28th. Stern’s premise is that nonprofits often hit a wall after 5-10 years when fundraising becomes more difficult and leadership transitions abound. In the for-profit sector there is an efficient system for harnessing the value in such an organization – companies are acquired by larger companies and derive benefits from the additional resources these strategic mergers offer. They don’t have to get to scale on their own, as is presumed in the nonprofit sector: Grow, Change or Die! Nonprofits don’t have a similar way to pivot and still retain their value.


Saul Ettlin, Thoreau Center for Sustainability
28/Mar/2016

There’s a lot of change brewing in the commercial real estate (CRE) world. From how we work to what a new generation of workers want from their workplace, these shifts are impacting the design and offerings of office space. Some of these trends are maturing (like the open plan) and new ones are coming on the scene (like hackable workspaces). What’s exciting is that much of the new thinking is aligned with the values that are already important to those of us who own and operate social purpose real estate and easily builds on our efforts to develop robust communities while providing affordable, quality workspace.


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14/Mar/2016

In addition to our work with shared space, we at NCN are also interested in the broader field of social purpose real estate. We define social purpose real estate as any real estate asset that is used for a mission greater than maximizing profits, which can range from public parks to libraries, from museums to affordable housing projects. One of the most overlooked social purpose real estate is affordable commercial space, the space necessary for nonprofits to operate in a community. In some cities, the market creates enough affordable spaces that this isn’t a big issue, but in other cities, (most notably San Francisco), nonprofits are being displaced or evicted when they can’t keep up with the going rates. Here are four ways that cities have stepped in to support their nonprofit sectors...


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Rima Zabian
07/Mar/2016

The role of a board in governing any organization cannot be overestimated. How the members of your board perform can make all the difference. In my experience, one of the most important components in creating and sustaining a healthy well-run co-work space is not only that board members understand what is expected of them in relation to the governance of the organization, but that they are also fully prepared to embrace their role.


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