When thinking about ways to use real estate assets to further a nonprofit’s mission, we often focus on underutilized real estate and how we might turn those into cash. However, as nonprofits seek ways to use contributed and earned revenue dollars more efficiently, it may also be a good time to rethink how you use your office space.
Where and how we work has changed dramatically over the last few years as more people work remotely than ever before. That doesn’t mean there is no need for office space for most nonprofits, however. A place to carry out our administrative and fundraising functions is still needed, as well as a place for staff and volunteers to gather and meet in person. If you are working in owned space, you will likely want to continue. But what if you could use the dollars spent on leased space in a different and potentially transformational way?
Leveraging the Dollars
Funds spent on leased space ultimately benefit the real estate owner. At the end of the lease, you’ve had a place to work, but you’ve not created any equity or long-term value. You also are less likely to be able to adapt and renovate the space to your changing needs. The cost of real estate in your region, or the need to stay nimble with a location using short-term leases, may make this the best or only option for your organization. However, there may be ways to redirect those dollars into areas that provide greater financial and missional impact.
For example, an organization may be considering a capital expansion project to provide enhanced services in an existing market or to move into a brand-new service area. Expanding the vision of the capital project to include administrative offices allows the dollars used on rent to instead be directed to the project. The project will be bigger, yes, but the funding sources will now be larger as well. Increasing the footprint, adding a second floor, or even constructing a stand-alone space on owned land are all ways to accomplish this.
If you are contemplating a renovation of existing assets or purchasing and reimagining a standing building, thinking ahead might allow you to work the office space into the redesign without adding to the footprint. This can allow the dollars to go even farther toward completing the project.
At the end of the day, prioritizing owned real estate over leased and shifting dollars out of rental expenses can increase your capital stack in a meaningful way.
Benefits for Staff
Bringing your staff closer to the point of program delivery is a significant non-financial benefit. The hustle and bustle of clients, the laughter of children, or the sight of seniors finding community and friendship bring your mission to life for administrative departments. Staff are likely to be more engaged, more supportive of the mission, and more likely to articulate your better story with those they meet in the community. In a time when attracting and retaining staff can be particularly difficult, anything you can use to your advantage will help. People are looking for work with meaning. What better way to give it to them?
Engaging Volunteers in New Ways
Having space for board or committee meetings can be important, but not every meeting has to be onsite. Board members may have large and attractive meeting spaces at their places of business. Others may belong to clubs or other entities with meeting spaces. Taking the “show on the road” can be a great way to lessen the need for large meeting spaces that are only used sporadically.
We can probably all think of organizations that were forced to vacate office space because of financial stresses. While the decision may have been a good one, the reactionary and rushed circumstances can appear desperate to those on the outside, setting up a narrative that works against the organization. A thoughtful, well-executed strategy yields better outcomes and allows you to narrate the move on your terms for maximum benefit.
DBD Group can help your organization analyze and maximize your real estate holdings and other assets, ensuring that you have more resources for your mission and enough office space to support your team. Contact us to find out more!