Considerations for Creating or Working in a Shared Space

Online Resource Center Documents

NCN State of the Share Space Sector 2015 Report I State of the Shared Space Survey
NCN Needs Assessment Tool Kit
Considering Coworking: Key Webinar Takeaways
Webinar I Considering Coworking
Timeline for a Nonprofit Center Development (Third Sector New England)
Co-Location of Services Project Timeline (Marion County Commission on Youth)
Colorado Collaborative for Nonprofits: Shared Space Lessons Learned, Vol. 1
Typical Predevelopment & Non-Predevelopment Expenses

Topics Below

What to Charge
Tips for a New Center
NCN Blog: 5 Things to Consider When Starting a Nonprofit Center


See also:
What to Charge for Program Space


What to Charge:

From Katie Edwards, NCN
Most charge on a per square foot basis, in order to evenly allocate the costs associated with the space. Nonprofit Centers tend to charge below market rate, but we encourage people to make sure they are covering the full costs of the building. Your rental price should cover the following expenses:

  • Common Area Maintenance Charges – The Utilities, Janitorial, Landscaping, Security, etc. (It’s important to assign these costs to the tenants based on their proportion of the total rentable square footage of the space, otherwise, you’ll get stuck with the burden for paying all of the utilities on the common areas)
  • Capital Reserve Fund – Usually $1-$2 per square foot is a good rule of thumb to charge each year and set aside. That way, if the boiler breaks or you need a new roof, you don’t have to start a capital campaign.
  • Gross Up Factor – Every building has non-rentable space, like hallways, bathrooms, kitchens, elevator mechanical rooms, etc. Make sure to charge people for access to these spaces based on the proportion of the rentable square footage they occupy.
  • Staff for the shared space – if you have a shared building manager or receptionist or janitor, make sure to include their salary in the rent!
  • Profit Margin – Nonprofit Centers are social enterprises, so make sure to include a small profit margin, if your model allows. This will help cover unexpected costs and provide some wiggle room.


Tips for a New Center

From Ask-NCN 4.16.15

Marian Williams, Zan W. Holmes, Jr. Community Outreach Center
I’m so excited our school district Dallas ISD (in Texas), will be allowing us to use one of the 7 closed schools to open as a shared space. If anyone has some suggestions please advise. I attended the conference that was held in Denver a few years ago, it has taken that long for the district to understand the importance for this space. We have been using the wonderful materials that were received at the conference and on the website. Over the years there have been such wonderful and community centered ideas that you are shared.

  • Did anyone have committees that were formed at the start?
  • What types of forms have be used, that were user friendly?
  • Please anything that you thing will assist us to make this center one that we can really make a difference?

Karen Maciorowski, CT Association of Nonprofits
We had a committee that was comprised from the start and included 6 board members, staff, partners, and a few prospective tenants. This committee was our Nonprofit Center Champions – that completely, whole heartedly believed in the cause – whenever we needed to get over a buy-in hurdle for funding, decisions, etc., one of them would accompany one of the staff so the voice was stronger. The members of the committee have changed over the last 3.5 years when we moved from vision to reality. Now that we are open, it is the same composition, but with tenants of the Center. Since we are an association that opened a Center, we have relied on our governance structure of board/staff to be involved and consider the CT Nonprofit Center a program of our association with hopes that one day, it will be a stand-alone entity.

Best advice I can offer is create a schedule of ALL potential funding sources that include deadlines for submissions so you don’t miss a pivotal and critical deadline for funding. We made this mistake and had to wait an entire year before the opportunity came back around. Had we set deadlines, the work we needed to do to prepare for requesting funding would have been scheduled.

We had hired the Nonprofit Center Network to conduct a feasibility study. This study not only included refining the vision, but also a market study to determine that the demand supported our vision. We went from thinking we wanted a 20,000 square foot building to purchasing a 86,000 square foot campus with 2 buildings because the demand was a great deal higher and the opportunity to locate near downtown of the State Capitol presented itself. The feasibility study brought creditability to our “dream” and convinced funders to invest in us. For prospective tenants, we created a survey monkey form to fill out – before we will even speak with them. This allows us to capture information like what size space to they need; what is their mission; when is their current lease up; what is their payment threshold; how many employees; and most importantly, how do they do business (because we could not support direct care nonprofits that had a large number of visiting clients). This form supports our grant reporting as well. It is very simple and starts the conversation. You can find it here:

The Network’s website has some fantastic reports available and the study done on the benefits of nonprofit centers back in 2012 was critical in convincing funders to take a leap of faith.

Another piece of advice – building a business plan can be daunting, but is a necessity to attract investors. This site provides an EASY way to build a business plan (which you can go back and tweak later) and is free:

I am not sure what else you are looking for that we can help with, so if you think of something, drop me an email or to the group. Also, what type of Center are you building? (Theme, service, multi-tenant)

John Powers, Alliance for Sustainable Colorado

The Third Street Center in Carbondale, CO, has been established in a closed school and could be of help.

Pru Robey, Artscape
Our free knowledge sharing website has guides, tools and templates some of which may be helpful to you – click on the Creative Placemaking Toolbox and scroll for the full range of subjects. Hope it helps ans good luck.

Mike Gilbert, The Jones Trust

It seems like you will be following a path similar to what we did in Rogers, Arkansas where we took a former hospital building (265,000 SF) and repurposed it as the Center for Nonprofits @ St. Mary’s. If you would like to contact me directly, I would be happy to visit with you and share our experience. Ther are numerous challenges when repurposing buildings that should be considered on the front end for efficient renovation programs. The beginning is where you need to focus on efficient, sustainable design of mechanical and electrical systems.


5 Things to Consider When Starting a Nonprofit Center

Katie Edwards, February 3, 2016

I often get calls from people thinking about starting a nonprofit center in their community. While we believe in the power of shared space, there are several things you should consider before you break ground.

1. Is your vision clear? It’s highly important to know what you are trying to create, whether it’s a coworking space for artists or social entrepreneurs or a one-stop shop for people experiencing homelessness. People need to understand what you are trying to develop before they will jump on board as partners.
2. Is there enough demand to support a center? Far too often nonprofit centers struggle because there aren’t enough organizations in their target demographic. Some centers have had to shift from being a service or theme center to a multi-sector model in order to make their financial model work. A good feasibility study will uncover how much space nonprofits in your community currently need.
3. Are your partners satisfied with their current space? It is expensive to move, and it disrupts your organization’s operations. Nonprofits won’t move unless something significant happens, like they are growing out of their space, they can’t afford the rent, or – in some extreme cases – their building has been condemned.
4. Is your organization ready to take on a capital project? Capital projects require a substantial amount of cash flow. Even if you aren’t buying and renovating a building, you may need to do extensive tenant improvements to your space. Can your budget handle this investment? Do you have a donor base that would support this kind of project?
5. What kind of partners are you looking for? Some nonprofit centers come together with a strong core group of anchor partners that help with the financing and capitalization of the building. Others are driven by one single organization that wants a partner to manage the building. Clarity around roles is incredibly important as you recruit partners.

Last updated byNonprofit Centers Network