Congratulations to our June FIN of the Month: Nonprofit Village, located in Rockville, Maryland, for becoming the first nonprofit co-working space to join the network! We asked Tom Colling, Programs Manager and FIN supervisor to tell us about their unique model and how the program furthers their organization’s mission.
Nonprofit Village (NPV) is a shared space located in Montgomery County that houses 29 nonprofit organizations and became a network partner in October 2016. An initiative of the Community Foundation of Montgomery County, NPV was incorporated in 2006 with the support of local legislators and philanthropic organizations. Their mission is to strengthen the reach and effectiveness of nonprofits through shared spaces, essential services and collaborative opportunities. Tom notes that the majority of their members are small and new nonprofits, with no specific thematic focus. Organizations work on issues ranging from road safety, health, the environment, and the arts. By joining NPV, they realize significant savings, approximately $30,000 annually, and enjoy amenities and services such as a communal kitchen, shared library with nonprofit resources, and capacity building opportunities. As NPV works to encourage growth, over the past three years, Tom reports that their members have seen an impressive 31% annual increase in the number of employees and 29% increase in revenue. The FIN program fits perfectly into this vision of growth — as another shared resource, members can use the databases to identify funding opportunities while non-members have the benefit of free access and connection with NPV in the process. How great would it be if a nonprofit visited NPV to utilize Foundation Center resources and also became a member organization?
NPV is more than just a space — they offer informal events such as happy hours that encourage a sense of community among members. They also foster collaboration when there is programmatic overlap between organizations. Tom provides an example, “we facilitated a collaboration between a group that works with the African immigrant community and a group that does entrepreneurship training for mainly immigrant women, encouraging them to share clients and information about each other’s services.” For small nonprofits, these “internal” referrals are extremely helpful and they prove vital for those they serve — it is a simple navigation of an otherwise complex system.
NPV also hosts educational programs including a “Lunch & Learn” series for their members and an annual fundraising workshop. They regularly partner with area capacity building organizations, like Maryland Nonprofits, the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, the Catalogue for Philanthropy, and Foundation Center — all of which have offered programming within the past year to NPV members.
Additionally, NPV recently launched a program called the Duck Pond, which is “Shark Tank” style event where participants can pitch their ideas for new nonprofit organizations or program concepts to a panel of experts in marketing, fundraising, law, program development and strategic planning. The panel reviews pitches and responds with advice, guidance and recommendations for the future. The Duck Pond enables startup nonprofits to define their missions, generate program strategies and operations, and create the foundation of a compliance program.
As we are always looking to diversify our network, we were very excited to onboard NPV and while at first it was a bit challenging to coordinate the logistics – they are now up and running! Tom shares that they have a steady stream of external organizations coming in to use the databases and the initial training was well attended. In the coming year, NPV would like to increase the number of people accessing the resources by regularly advertising within the community.
Based on the initial success and enthusiasm of NPV, we would be happy to welcome additional nonprofit co-working spaces to the network. They are ideal locations that often work with small, under resourced and/or new organizations that need access to grant-seeking resources, training opportunities and like at NPV, a real community to thrive. Tom adds, “FIN is a great service to offer members and a good way to get external organizations through your doors and expose them to your space.”
Once again, congratulations and welcome to Nonprofit Village — you have made FINhistory as the FIRST co-working space to join the network!