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15/Aug/2016

Lately I’ve been working with a number of organizations who are in the early stages of a new shared space project. It’s an exciting time, but it can also quickly become stressful and chaotic. Here are some survival tips that will hopefully make your journey smoother. #1 – Communicate. Your project may shift, the ideal location may change, your partners may have second thoughts, but someone has to maintain clear communication to a variety of stakeholders (potential funders, potential tenants, government agencies, media, real estate professionals, etc). Commit to some type of regular communication, whether it’s a newsletter or notes emailed to a distribution list. It can prevent misunderstandings down the line and it establishes norms for your shared space around transparency, inclusivity and decision-making.


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08/Aug/2016

One of the biggest reasons nonprofit centers and coworking spaces exists is to give people the chance to get to one another – to connect in the kitchen, chat around the coffee pot, and share ideas. At the same time, so many of us live at least a part of our lives online, checking Facebook and twitter, searching for connections on LinkedIn, or exploring the latest MMORPG. Connecting in person can be a huge breath of fresh air.


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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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05/Jul/2016

That’s what I remembered about active shooter training when I heard a scream in the hallway while on a call with a client last week. I was at the Alliance Center, where NCN is a tenant, in a small conference room, surrounded by glass. I saw people running down the hall, shouting that someone had a gun. Then, I tried to hide in the tiny room when I saw a man walk by pointing a gun. After he passed, I darted to the bathroom across the hall since I didn’t have a safe exit route. As luck (if you can call it that) would have it, the shooter only wanted to harm his soon-to-be ex-wife and himself, not the rest of us.


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20/Jun/2016

In most for-profit coworking models, free, all-you-can-drink coffee is included in your membership fee. Coffee helps to animate the space, and gives people a reason to get away from their desks Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, argues that to encourage innovation and ideas, people need to have the opportunity to “collide” with one another, to interact. In a shared space, the common coffee pot, helps to provide an opportunity for partners to interact – because let’s face it, coffee is a necessity in the working world.


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14/Jun/2016

Recently I’ve read a lot of articles about the dark side of collaboration and how collaborations can fall apart. I don’t disagree – collaboration is hard and we often don’t have the tools to get it right. La Piana’s article speaks to the challenges of the nonprofit competitive environment and the often ineffective processes around collaboration – sometimes not resulting in any real decisions being made. These are great points.


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25/May/2016

A recent question on Ask-NCN reminded me of a workshop I attended during our 2015 Building Opportunities Conference in Vancouver, BC on Identifying and Managing Risk in Social Purpose Real Estate. The presenter that resonated most with me was Mandy Hansen of Insight Specialty Consulting, who focused on ways that you can understand risk, especially risk from partnership. She suggested that all social purpose real estate projects (including nonprofit centers) conduct a “Risk Workshop,” a constructive way to assess potential issues. Here are the 4 steps to run your own Risk Workshop...


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03/May/2016

Just back from an action-packed week in Philadelphia! We had a sold-out Energize training on Wednesday and the mix of long-standing centers and new projects was invigorating! On Thursday, we piloted Streamlining Social Good: Overcoming Barriers to Nonprofit Resource Sharing. A terrific group of speakers, moderated by Syon Bhanot of Swarthmore College, led us through lots of concepts nonprofits don’t usually contemplate. Here are my take-aways...


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