As a nonprofit, you are probably being asked to do more with less every day. At the same time, the heart and soul of any nonprofit organization are its people — the dedicated, caring individuals who are truly passionate about helping the community.
How do you make the most of your staff resources without breaking your budget in the process? Coworking is one great way to do just that. You can maintain the team interaction and collaboration you need without the overhead of paying for dedicated office space.
Here are just a few reasons why you should consider coworking for your nonprofit organization:
This is the most obvious reason to switch to coworking. The membership fees at coworking spaces can seem steep at several hundred dollars per month, but even the swankiest coworking spaces represent significant cost savings over renting a dedicated space.
The exact savings depends on your location and the size of your team, but it can range from 40-50 percent up to 75 percent or more. The beauty of the coworking structure comes from the fact that the monthly fee includes all of the utilities, furniture, IT, and other costs that your organization would need to pay for on its own at a dedicated office space.
The less you have to spend on that overhead, the more you’ll have to invest directly in the work that your organization does. You can use the extra money to start a new program, expand an existing one, or even reward your staff with a team retreat. Additionally, you can save that money for a rainy day, which will come at some point in the ebb and flow of nonprofit funding.
You can even tout the move to a coworking space in stewardship communications to your donors — letting them know that you are making the most of the funds they gave, and hopefully inspiring them to give more in the process.
One reservation you may have about moving to a coworking space is the impersonal nature many people picture when they think of coworking. How can you connect with the community in a place where everyone is sitting at desks wearing headphones and staring at computer screens?
That image, while it certainly exists at coworking spaces, is not representative of the industry as a whole. Coworking has grown to include all types of office environments from shared desks all the way up to private offices and meeting rooms.
If you have a client-based nonprofit, you can utilize those private spaces for meetings and appointments. Coworking spaces tend to be located in easily accessible locations, so it may even be more convenient for a client to meet you there than it was at your dedicated office.
Use some of the money you save in rent and overhead to throw an event welcoming your clients to your new space. This is a great way to make them feel comfortable coming to a new place and assure them that, even though your location has changed, the services you provide have not.
On the employee side of things, the less time your staff has to spend commuting between home and a far-flung office, the more time they’ll have to devote to doing the good work of your organization. They’ll be more engaged and more passionate as a result.
Coworking spaces attract people with an entrepreneurial mindset, just the type of people you want to be thinking about how to improve your nonprofit. They are the perfect place to do a little networking. Talking with someone from a startup over coffee might spark an idea you would never have come up with otherwise.
Beyond idea generation, a coworking space could also provide funding opportunities. Startups and established companies alike will have the chance to see your team in action and really get to know the work that you do. If they like what they see and can get to know your mission, they might be inclined to support it.
This type of outreach is way more effective than “cold” emails, phone calls, or other types of solicitations. The businesses that back your nonprofit can feel like they are part of your team and benefit from seeing where their money goes every day as your organization does it work in the coworking space.
No matter what type of coworking space you choose, your network will expand to include people with a variety of skill sets who can help your organization. Need some design work? Or maybe a new website? There’s probably someone in the space who can help with that, which saves you the hassle of trying to find a freelancer on your own.
You can collaborate with that person in real-time, just as you would any other staff member on your team. Some coworking spaces even hold networking events to foster these connections among their residents.
The best way to know whether coworking is a good fit for your organization is to try it. Pick a few of your most flexible employees and ask them to be part of a pilot program. You can find temporary coworking space at a low rate and see how it works.
One of the great aspects of a coworking space is that there’s no long-term commitment, so you’re not bound to stay anywhere that does not work for your organization. You can even try out a few different types of spaces to see which will work best.
If the trial run goes well (which we predict it will), you can begin the process of moving your entire team into a dedicated coworking space. You’ll be able to maintain the organizational culture and team spirit you have while saving money and forging new connections in your community — a win-win for everyone.
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