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Carlie Kuban and Pat Smith
30/Jan/2019

December 20th, 2018 marked the culmination of 21 months of effort for Serve Denton and three of our partner agencies: Health Services of North Texas, Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County and Denton Community Food Center. We closed on a $9.5 million deal through the New Markets Tax Credit program that will enable each agency to accomplish strategic goals that may never have been achieved by the organizations working independently. Health Services of North Texas (HSNT) will have a full-service clinic with a pharmacy in the zip code where most of its patients reside. Children’s Advocacy Center for Denton County (CACDC) will triple the size of its Denton office and collocate with law enforcement—a similar setup to its Lewisville center. Denton Community Food Center (DCFC) will triple the size of its space while improving its intake and service delivery methods. Brené Brown, in her book Dare to Lead, defines a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas and dares to develop that potential.  She makes the point that when we dare to lead, we don’t pretend to have the right answers; we stay curious and ask the right questions. We know that power grows when we share it with others. We don’t avoid difficult conversations and situations; we lean into vulnerability when necessary to do good work.


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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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03/Oct/2016

In September, I had the privilege of attending the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Nonprofit Management Institute on Network Leadership. I have been interested in the topic of network leadership because every nonprofit center that we know of is or has the potential to be a network for catalyzing social good. For many years, the idea was that to increase your social impact, you had to bring your model to scale. However, researchers like Jane Wei-Skillern have found that there have been many organizations who have multiplied their ability to achieve impact by taking the opposition – slimming down their operations, specializing, and working in concert with partners.


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18/Jul/2016

As my partner and I prepared to host a meal for his growing number of coworkers, I realized that many of the key ingredients for sharing a meal also apply to shared space. It’s no wonder that many nonprofit centers use the breaking of bread as a gateway to bigger, more important forms of collaboration. We learned at Streaming Social Good that collaboration isn’t something that’s natural – it’s something that you have to practice. A potluck is an easy way to practice and reflect on the principles of collaboration, while gathering with friends.  Here’s are my reflections on how the key ingredients of a good potluck apply to shared spaces:

  • The goal is clear! At great potlucks, you know why you’re there – to have fun and eat some great food. The same is true of strong shared spaces – every person knows why they’ve joined this group, why they’ve moved their offices under one roof with their partners.
  • The host gets things rolling, while inviting others to share their skills. The host of a potluck provides a little structure to the shindig, outlining the time and date, and the list of things that will be needed. Like a host, a shared space manager helps their community to identify the skills needed to meet their goals.
  • Invite people to volunteer. Once the menu is outlined, you invite people to volunteer to play a role. Whether someone brings a three-layer chocolate cake they worked on for hours or someone just grabbed a bag of chips and dip from the store, each role is important for a plentiful meal. In shared space, the leaders need to recognize all the contributions, small and large, that make the community possible. Everyone has a specialty that will shine when you let people play to their strengths.
  • Reap the rewards together. The best part of a potluck is eating the fruits of everyone’s labor. In the meal, you get to appreciate what has come together. While it may not be perfect, it will be bountiful. In shared space, it’s important to remember to celebrate the things that have happened because your community has come together under one roof. Savor the successes, no matter how small.

Take a moment to think about your shared space. If it were a potluck, would it be one that you’d show up to? If not, how can you realign things to make it easier for people to participate? Sometimes what seems to be a complex problem can be very simple if you look at it in a different light.


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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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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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04/Jan/2016

According to NCN's 2015 State of the Sector Survey collaboration is a goal that most nonprofit shared space centers share, yet few feel they have achieved the level of collaboration among tenants that they expected. For this reason, I found The Myths and Reality of Nonprofit Collaboration: Observations from Six Years in the Trenches by John MacIntosh, Partner, SeaChange Capital Partners and Lois Savage, President, The Lodestar Foundation interesting and relevant for our network. Although this article deals with nonprofit collaboration outside of the colocation model, I think they highlight many issues that shared space centers face.


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