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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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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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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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11/Jul/2016

NCN helps nonprofit organizations share many kinds of organizational infrastructure – not just space. You may see or hear us talk about “shared services” from time to time. We define shared services broadly as the collaborative use of resources across traditional organizational boundaries. Multiple organizations, or multiple programs within a larger organization, establish shared services to collaboratively and more efficiently make use of equipment, staff, program resources, and much more. Most nonprofit organizations have a traditional organizational model with their own core operations such as purchasing, public relations, human resources, IT support, equipment, and workspace. Financial pressures drive nonprofit organizations to look for new, cost-effective structures. Shared services offer a long-term solution by allocating much-needed resources to multiple organizations for a fee. Virtually any resource that does not uniquely fulfill an organization’s mission has the potential to be shared, including, but not limited to, things like busses, IT, software, reception, purchasing services, payroll, HR, volunteer management, and client intake. Why should my organization consider shared services? There are five key benefits:


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