So you've decided to launch a nonprofit.
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You have an inspiring mission, a passionate group of volunteers, and a failsafe fundraising plan. You're ready to change the world, but there's still one thing you haven't considered . . . Where are you going to change the world from?
Finding appropriate space is a dilemma for many nonprofits, especially during the startup phase. You need space to fulfill your mission and attract donors, but until you attract donors your resources are limited. Unlike a for-profit business, you can't rely on investors to cover the rent and no one in their right mind is going to approve a loan for an unproven nonprofit venture.
Fortunately, nonprofits have several space options that aren't typically available to a for-profit business. All you need to do is explore your options and choose the one that is the best fit for your organization.
Board & Volunteer Resources
When you selected your board of directors, you painstakingly chose individuals who were positioned to benefit the organization and its goals. The payoff is that some of those board members have access to space that the organization can use until it gets on its feet. For example, a board member who is a business owner may be willing to allow the organization to inhabit some of his company's space for a specified period of time at little or no cost. If the board can't help you, expand your search parameters to include the space resources of volunteers, donors, and others who want to help your organization succeed.
Other nonprofits may also be able to provide a solution for your space problem. For the most part, the nonprofit community is generous and willing to assist fledgling nonprofits if they are able. These days it's common for nonprofits to share space, even if they don't share a common mission or purpose. Sometimes space sharing arrangements can even inspire synergistic solutions to challenges in areas such as staffing, fundraising, and programming.
Each year, thousands of new businesses are launched from their owners' homes. Why should nonprofits be any different? Depending on the nature of your organization, the most practical solution to your space dilemma may be a personal residence. Although it's not an ideal arrangement and it certainly can't continue in perpetuity, initially basing your organization out of your home may provide the breathing space you need to raise funds for a more suitable location.
Since nonprofit organizations exist to serve the community, many communities are open to allowing nonprofits to use community space such as schools for special events and programming. Even though the chance of obtaining exclusive space through community resources is slim (at best), you can augment a home-based nonprofit with community space for large group gatherings.