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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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