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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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03/Jun/2019

It’s been a long winter in Denver…and yes, I know it’s June! But within my son’s last 2 weeks of school, it snowed at least 3 inches, and we received an epic middle of the night hail storm. My plants were already struggling to grow even before they were pummeled. But finally, the sun is peaking out, and it’s beginning to warm up. New growth is around the corner, and I can taste sandal weather. It seems nonprofits and local leaders are coming out of hibernation as well lately. NCN has seen quite the uptick of people inquiring about our services, joining our network, considering building spaces or wanting to learn more about shared services. What gives? Here is some of what we’ve been hearing lately:


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Chelsea Donohoe
13/May/2019

It’s Time to Register for Sharing Innovation 2019! It’s time to register for the third annual Sharing Innovation event! (Don’t miss the best registration rate! Early bird discounted registration ends Friday, August 30th). We are ecstatic at NCN about this gathering. It has continued to grow each year, and we are even more impressed with the groundbreaking collaboration happening all over the US and Canada. Every day, more groups are creating shared spaces and shared services to enable organizations to realign how they use resources to tackle the biggest challenges in their communities. No matter the size or scope of your organization, our speakers will have relevant, actionable advice and creative strategies for sharing. Sharing Innovation is a different type of NCN gathering. It’s a time to amplify ideas, dream big, and discuss what’s possible. You will hear from our network about the increased efficiency and effectiveness folks are experiencing from sharing space and other resources. We sought out speakers who are using infrastructure to achieve impact, and we wanted to hear how they are shaping their communities through collaborative, place-based initiatives.


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Jackie Cefola Director, Consulting and Shared Services
07/May/2019

The Nonprofit Centers Network is happy to announce the Upcoming release Rethinking Overhead: Daring to Share Resources Preview, a new on-line publication designed to help you consider why shared back office services could be fit for your organization.* Why are we asking you to think about shared services? As a sector, we need innovative strategies that support nonprofit organizations to access essential overhead services. As nonprofit center developers and operators, we understand the power of collaboration and the potential for shared services to add value to shared spaces. As organizational leaders, we know that our operations gain strength and resiliency through high-quality back office services. And as mission-based practitioners, we want to focus our time and effort on mission-based activities. Sure, this all sounds great in theory but what are the real reasons why organizations participate in shared services? To answer this question, the NCN team asked the leaders of 12 organizations (six service providers and six clients/partners/members/projects) to tell us their shared services stories.


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29/Apr/2019

Last week we gathered for another Ask-NCN Live member-only call to discuss evaluation.* Despite this being a requested topic, there was a tangible fear that kept people from submitting their questions on the registration form. But this is not new to NCN, and we don’t blame people! We purposely sought out an evaluation expert for NCN’s Evaluation Project 2 years ago and brought the same organization – Laura Sundstrom of Vantage Evaluation - in for our call. (These have always been member-only calls, but we knew this call would need some outside support!) We get it – who’s got the expertise, the time to execute, the human power to get it done and what do you do with the data once you’ve got it? Can we just stick to operating spaces and improving collaboration? Yes, you can. But it’s all connected. Evaluation is not just for reviewing what’s working or not working. It informs your next steps – your offerings to your tenants and your programming for future collaboration. So, I’m sorry to report that we should be doing this more. But, where do you start? Here are a few tips around what to focus on, how to do it, and how to advocate to your community and funders the importance of evaluation. What to focus on?


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Jackie Cefola Director, Consulting and Shared Services
01/Apr/2019

This week the Nonprofit Centers Network team is busy preparing for the publication of Rethinking Overhead, our new resource for nonprofit leaders who want to share services. What are shared services? At the Nonprofit Centers Network, we describe shared services as being developed by two or more nonprofit organizations that collaborate to jointly access the time and expertise of contractors, employees or fiscal sponsors to create positive impacts for their operations and their communities. This might be overkill but I’d like to take some time to break this down.


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Chelsea Donahoe
04/Mar/2019

You might not have heard yet, but NCN is developing ANOTHER amazing resource. Our main goal is to identify and analyze current human services one stop center models and practices that elevate the service experience for clients. Over the past couple months, I’ve been interviewing A LOT of folks at human services centers. The first question I ask in these interviews is: Does your center identify as a one-stop human services center? While some answer with an emphatic “YES! A THOUSAND TIMES, YES!” (or maybe just a simple “Yes”), many answers go something like this… “Well...maybe?” “Wait…what do you mean by that?” “I call it that in conversation…but not formally.” And every interviewer’s personal favorite: “Hmmmmm…*LONG PAUSE*” I know it may seem like I’m complaining about these answers, but I’m not. I promise! Since this question is so hard to answer, it tells me that there is a significant level of confusion about the topic. That is why part of this research will be to determine what exactly we mean by the term “one stop human services center.” And, what is that definition you ask? Don’t worry. It will be in the Strengthening the Safety Net report.


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Jackie Cefola Director, Consulting and Shared Services
25/Feb/2019

I admit it. I recently watched an episode of “Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo’s new reality series about home organizing and I found it compelling. Participants sorted through all of their belongings to recognize and focus on what they truly loved and get rid of the rest.I wonder about applying this strategy at work. What would work feel like if we were able to focus more time and attention on the tasks that spark joy, the tasks that relate to our missions?For myself at the Nonprofit Centers Network, I recognize that what really floats my boat is working with organizations and communities interested in sharing space, services, time, and knowledge. I see how these innovative strategies allow organizations to access necessary resources, run more efficiently, be more impactful, and develop a greater focus on mission. Conversely, what sparks my anxiety is bookkeeping.


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15/Feb/2019

I may have lost some of you already with this title. Thanks to free online tools, it’s extremely easy to make and distribute surveys, which also means many surveys land in our own laps. We know many surveys out there gather important information. I mean, without surveys, we might not know that, “Individuals age 75 and over averaged 51 minutes of [leisurely] reading per day whereas individuals ages 15 to 44 read for an average of 10 minutes or less per day.”1 Which means, I better wrap this up quickly. But what about this statistic from 2013? “Nearly 70 percent of full time American workers hate sitting, yet 86 percent do it all day, every day…an average of 13 hours a day and sleeping an average of 8 hours resulting in a sedentary lifestyle of around 21 hours a day.”2 I think half of you just walked away from your computer. The article adds, “30 percent even responded that they would rather go without coffee for a week to stand.” Okay, this is a serious problem. Our NCN State of the Shared Space Sector Survey will be coming out shortly, and I’m sorry to say, it will involve some reading. And it will not be able to help you have less coffee or more exercise (unless you use a standing desk with a stair stepper.) Surveys about taking surveys tell me that only 30-40% of you will respond to us,3 but here are 5 reasons you should fill out ours:


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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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