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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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Jackie Cefola Director, Consulting and Shared Services
14/Jan/2019

Way back in 2010, I was fortunate to be part of an amazing team with NCN founder China Brotsky, former-Executive Director Roxanne Hanson, and former staff member Tuan Ngo. Together, we co-wrote NCN’s Guide to Shared Services. Our intention was to support NCN member organizations’ interests in collaborative access to back-office job functions, what we termed “shared services.” Our opening lines of the Guide read, “Nonprofit organizations face challenging times. Volatile financial markets are impacting funding opportunities while the demand for services as well as operating expenses are increasing. For the majority of nonprofit organizations with already limited resources these challenges indicate a need for a new paradigm.” Sound familiar? While many things have changed in the past 9 years, pressures are still driving organizations to conserve precious resources and explore collaborative strategies. As a result, many organizations are considering the potential to share back-office services.


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Jackie Cefola
27/Nov/2018

What overhead services are easiest to share? How do organizations decide to offer fiscal sponsorship? Is it necessary to survey potential customers before offering shared services? Earlier in November, 21 Nonprofit Centers Network members discussed these questions and more during the Ask-NCN Live video call focusing on shared administrative services. We periodically host Ask-NCN Live video calls to strengthen connection and sharing among our members. Participating members submit their questions in advance allowing the NCN team to identify key points of interest. During the video call, NCN facilitators gently guide the conversation to ensure that participants can ask their questions and receive answers directly from other members.


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Karen Derrick-Davis
06/Nov/2018

In a shared space setting, organizations are rethinking the way they manage and share resources. Though not always easy, the payoff can make the challenges worth it. Building a timebank within a shared space is another way to leverage the relationships and provide a framework and platform for sharing skills through the currency of time—time credits. In a timebank, members earn and spend time credits by providing services and accessing services. An time credit earned or spent in the timebank is always worth one hour, no matter what the service. All services are valued equally. Timebanks are redefining work and tapping a limitless resource: time.


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Lexi Paza and Nada Zohdy
10/Oct/2018

The number of commercial coworking spaces is rapidly growing across North America. These for-profit shared spaces achieve growth via a traditional and straightforward revenue model: acquire more space, serve more tenants. Yet how can and should nonprofit centers think differently about growth? At the Sharing Innovation annual NCN gathering in just a few weeks, we are both excited to share how our organizations – Tides in San Francisco and Open Gov Hub in Washington, D.C. – are each scaling their impact in a unique way, without adding more real estate. We will share our top takeaways (like how to lead with your values and leverage intangible assets), and how you can help your own center grow creatively. First, let’s start with the big elephant in the room: the meteoric rise of for-profit collaborative workspaces – an industry that is projected to grow 16% in the next five years. In Washington, D.C. this year alone, eight new commercial coworking companies have opened even though the field was already crowded with over 70 existing corporate shared spaces. WeWork, the leader in the sector, is now valued at $20 billion and promises members the opportunity to “become part of a greater ‘we’”. And WeWork isn’t alone in selling community as a key service/benefit (accessible to members as soon as they hit the “purchase” button on their membership payment). Most commercial coworking spaces seem to emphasize this as a key part of their branding. So, as operators of nonprofit centers, should we be worried about the extraordinary growth of the commercial equivalents of our shared spaces?


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Roman Katsnelson, KRD Consulting Group Inc.
04/Sep/2018

Data is everywhere. We generate and consume it throughout our day,  whether at work, at play, or at home. On the ground and in the cloud - smart devices track our every step (literally), while algorithms convert traces of our decisions, actions and moods into predictors of future behavior. So too in our centres, data is everywhere. Wherever we fall on the spectrum from co-location to collaboration, we interact with our constituents in a wide variety of ways – they are tenants who sign leases and pay rent, collaborators who contribute to shared missions, members who draw on our support. Each of these activities generates bits of information, and we could – at least hypothetically – track all of them into some giant whole. But we quickly realize that information is not by itself particularly helpful. Mere numbers strung might create a moment’s curiosity – but then what? For example, you’ve likely seen the graphics depicting the mega-activity of the modern Internet: so-and-so many millions of videos viewed every second, such-and-such many billions of “likes” clicked on social media:  tweets and swipes and comments, oh my! We have no reason to doubt the truth of this data – but what can we do with it? Information is not yet knowledge. In his book “Data Driven Nonprofits,” Steve MacLaughlin coined the phrase “TBU: True But Useless.”  In order not to waste resource collecting TBU data, we have to adopt the usability mindset from the outset.


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Lara Jakubowski La Piana Consulting Denver, CO
27/Aug/2018

The power of language in how we think about and promote shared resource solutions. In today’s social and political environment we bear witness every day to how the power of words can divide, discriminate, and denigrate. They can also be tools for equity, justice, and social good. In the field of nonprofit shared resources we need to examine more carefully how our choice of language can aid our cause to foster greater efficiency, equity, and positive social impact. We may find that we are wielding blunt semantic instruments to build our missions. Let’s look at perhaps our most commonplace expression, “shared resources” (space, people, services, etc.). Our field is growing with increasing demands placed on the third sector as government-provisioned social safety nets wane. The call is ever louder for greater efficiency and equity of access through sharing. However, I’ve been asked frequently how our coworking space at CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia differs from old-school executive suites, or even a generic multi-tenant building. Likewise, as a Model A Fiscal Sponsor, people wonder how our services differ from that of an outsourced bookkeeper, for example. Good questions. If you think about it all professional service firms, for-profit or nonprofit, are “shared resources”; a law firm’s attorneys are “shared” by many clients. And I doubt that NCN would consider itself the association for general multi-tenant landlords, even if they are nonprofit. So what are we talking about when we say “shared spaces and services”?


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