If you have started or worked for a nonprofit organization,you know that they go through predictable lifestyle stages. And each stage brings different kinds of challenges.
· At the start when the nonprofit is just an idea, people meet in someone’s home or in a restaurant. Maybe the nonprofit is going to address a health condition, education, or the needs of an undeserved population. But everyone is excited. Big ideas fly around. People discuss, and maybe pick, a clever name for the nonprofit. Somebody designs a logo. Sub-committees form, and people make plans for the next meeting. It’s all energizing, but after a meeting or two, operational issues creep in. Is the organization going to rent offices? Where will it hold events? Where will it meet with potential contributors and board members? It’s a bit like falling out of a dream and landing on hard ground. Suddenly, there are practical decisions to be made, usually having to do with costs.
· When a nonprofit is well established,everything should be running well and within budget, with facilities and systems in place. But how often have you seen or been part of a nonprofit where that is really happening? Let’s face it. Even strong and established nonprofits are usually trying to find ways to cut costs and boost efficiencies. Most need to cut staff, turn down the heat, reduce the size and cost of the office space they use, and still look good to potential benefactors. We know one nonprofit foundation that within the last few years closed its offices (it now runs out of the founder’s home), laid off all paid staff (it’s now staffed by the founder and a few volunteers) disposed of boxes and boxes of printed materials, gave away its computers, and took other steps to run leaner. And do you know what? The executive director is no longer taking a salary.
· When nonprofits run into trouble (and they sometimes do), things are stagnating. Sometimes the people who started them lacked a genuine commitment to make them a success. Sometimes a cause that looked like a great idea at the start turned out to be only a temporary interest of the founders. For example, we know one nonprofit foundation that was founded by parents of a young woman who had an eating disorder. Once their daughter got over having an eating disorder, they lost interest in the nonprofit, and so did the people they recruited in the early stages. But many times, nonprofits experience operational difficulties because the people who run them do not contain costs and run their organizations efficiently.
Where Does Your Nonprofit Fit Into those Lifecycle Stages?
When you look at the stages we wrote about above, you notice that nonprofits at all stages are actually confronting similar issues. They are trying to save money on office space and systems, attempting to provide the right kind of working conditions for volunteers and paid employees, looking for pleasant spaces to hold board and other meetings, dealing with staffs that expand or reduce in size depending on changing needs, looking for places to greet patrons and donors and for economical venues to hold events.
So the logical next question is, how can nonprofits hit all those targets in ways that enable them to get off the ground, run efficiently once they are established, and stay in the game long enough to make a difference in the world?
Building Efficiencies by Using Coworking Spaces
Because KettleSpace is in the business of providing busy New Yorkers with beautiful, flexible, and affordable shared coworking spaces, you won’t be surprised when we tell you about something that we have observed about a growing number of nonprofit organizations that are using KettleSpace locations . . .
Shared coworking spaces and nonprofits work beautifully together
Alison Nakamura Netter, executive director of the ZanaAfrica Foundation, is one such KettleSpace nonprofit Member. ZanaAfrica Foundation was founded to expand access to menstrual products and reproductive health education for women in Kenya. Sometimes Alison needs to staff up to achieve a specific goal, like raising $10,000 in March for an educational program for young Kenyan girls.
And while most of the ZanaAfrica team is based in Nairobi, Alison, a KettleSpace Member, works remotely from New York. On a typical day, she might talk to a representative from a United Nations agency about partnership opportunities, meet with a donor, or interface with a board member about plans for fundraising activities. Or she might finalize a grant application, do an interview with a media outlet, or review finances. And do you know what? She does it all from KettleSpace’s co-working location at Crave Fishbar on the Upper West Side. Except of course, for those times when she is working in Kenya.
Why Shared Coworking Spaces Synch So Well with Nonprofits
Why do drop-in workspaces work so well for nonprofits? And why should your nonprofit consider using one too? Here are some benefits to consider . . .
· Low costs of real estate – There’s no need to lease or buy office space and it’s easy to control costs. No long-term leases or financial commitments.
· Professionalism – You can get your nonprofit off of your kitchen table and out of your house and start functioning as a real organization in the real world.
· Flexibility to staff up or staff down – If you need to bring in volunteers or staff members to meet a short-term need (like Alison does when it’s time for a fundraising crunch), you can simply do it without having to lease space.
· Access to multiple locations – If your staffers live indifferent areas, even in different cities, you can provide everyone with professional locations where they can work and connect from. And if some of your people live in New York, you can of course use KettleSpace locations.
· Low or zero equipment and technology costs – If you use a modern coworking space like KettleSpace, you won’t need to buy or lease a printer, get an Internet service provider, or even buy a coffeemaker. You walk in, the equipment you need is there, and you can just get down to work.
· Potential to reserve conference rooms – When your board or donors meet, there’s no need to have them over to your house or rent a meeting room at a hotel or conference facility. A variety of comfortable, well-lit and well-equipped conference rooms are available at KettleSpace locations (conference rooms are not included in base Membership and can be reserved for an additional fee).
· Event spaces – If you are hosting a fundraiser or an information session for potential benefactors, you can do it in an upscale coworking space like KettleSpace. And again, you won’t need to rent facilities at a hotel or conference center.
· Learning, networking and cooperation – More and more KettleSpace users are discovering that the people who are sharing their tables or area every day can become vital resources. The graphic designer, social media marketing expert, branding consultant or other expert could be right there. Plus at KettleSpace, we hold special events and functions that catalyze members’ ability to connect with each other. These resources can lead to valuable connections for nonprofits.
That’s Why Coworking Spaces and Nonprofits Work Perfectly Together
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