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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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Thaddeus Squire, Cultureworks Commons Management, Philadelphia, PA
03/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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Keith Jones, Dena Kae Beno, Bob Yates
24/Jul/2018

We are on a journey of remarkable change and transformation in the community of Abbotsford, a municipality of 150,000 people 70 km east of Vancouver, Canada. Our story starts sadly with a reactive response to homelessness in 2013 but then shifts to a positive response of unity, hope and inspiration. Impacts nonetheless are still being felt by residents, businesses, service providers, and vulnerable individuals. Realistically, this story is about incremental change within a broader long-term transformative agenda: taking the time to listen to the voices and frustrations of those who are realizing the day-to-day impacts, and then creating space for multiple perspectives to generate co-created solutions. This is the real work, the messy work, and the shared realization of cultural transformation through applied systems work on a day-today basis. The community is now on a far more collaborative pathway to a better future for people experiencing homelessness. The community has rallied around shared strategies that reflect the systemic nature of these sorts of community challenges. Organizations across all sectors are working together on actions they share and toward common outcomes they identified. The coordinated efforts of many people and organizations toward these shared outcomes are starting to make a difference in responding to those experiencing homelessness and those at risk of becoming homeless. Teams are devising new approaches, documenting their experiences, and learning together. New relationships are being forged and trust is building despite moments of tension, ambiguity, and uncertainty. While there are early signs of improvement, there is also a growing appreciation for the need to take the long view, to remain committed, stay the course, while always learning and adjusting. This is the evolving nature of our collective impact work.


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Dr. Tammy Butler
09/Jul/2018

Utilizing the social ecological model (SEM) as a framework, this model recognizes the relationships that exist between an individual and his or her environment within and across various systems. The levels within the SEM include: (a) individual, (b) interpersonal (social networks), (c) community (formal and informal social networks), (d) societal (social institutions), and (e) political (public policy). The model addresses the complexities and interdependences between the socioeconomic, cultural, political, environmental, organizational, psychological, and biological determinants of behavior (Stokols, 1996). The application of the social ecological model identifies various differential constraints and opportunities for accessing social, financial, and community resources when situated within each of the social systems.


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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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