Coworking spaces deliver on a variety of critical needs for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and startups. Chief among them is lowering the cost and stress associated with securing a space to work.
Nonprofits have the same needs. In some ways, even more so.
These organizations put their energy, sweat, and dollars toward mission-driven work, and spending significant portions of budget on an expensive office lease can feel like a poor use of resources.
That’s what Nate Heasley witnessed with his work as a consultant for nonprofits. He worked out of a friend’s coworking space in New York City and wanted to help his clients find similar space. Thus All Good Work was created, helping coworking and flex space operations designate space for vetted nonprofits.
Something most coworking operators would do… if they had time
It seems like a clear win-win: If your space has desks or an office that isn’t in use, why not offer it to a mission-driven person or team?
“It sounds easy, but it's not,” Heasley explained. “It can be hard to know what is really behind an organization that sounds great at first. But who are these people? Is the organization itself actually effective or responsible?”
Add to that the time and effort needed to identify nonprofit organizations, vet them, identify needs, assess potential, and create a safe and mutually beneficial agreement? It’s no wonder coworking space owners don’t take this on themselves.
Instead, All Good Work facilitates the process. It has two entry points: one for resident nonprofits and one for host spaces. Each goes through a discovery phase not unlike a dating app, with the result being matched with the right partner.
Bring ESG initiatives to your coworking space
Corporate responsibility is not just an overall mission to provide good service. Environmental, Social, and Governance factors are often one way coworking and flex spaces can attract investors or members. These factors are a subset of non-financial performance indicators which include ethical, sustainable, and corporate government issues such as making sure there are systems in place to ensure accountability and managing the corporation’s carbon footprint.
Designating a portion of your space inventory for use by nonprofits organizations can be a part of an ESG strategy. And as more and more corporations look to coworking spaces as ‘third space options’ for hybrid and remote work (not work from home and not return to the office), some may use ESG as selection criteria.
Help your coworking space differentiate
But ESG isn’t the only element of the program that benefits a coworking space.
“Most people see coworking as real estate,” Heasley said. “All that really matters is location, location, location. But that’s not necessarily the case. I’ve seen it with my own eyes as I was doing some research, talking to other local operators who focused on nonprofits. I found a vibrant, fully occupied community that was a 20 minute walk from a subway stop.” Heasley noted that any kind of substantial walking distance from a subway was usually a deterrent, but not here.
“These operators created a destination built around nonprofits. They hosted events that brought people together. And people were not only willing to pay market rates to be part of the community, they were willing to invest even more time in their commute just to be a part of it.”
Heasley outlines a few of the ways in which aligning with All Good Work benefits operators:
Culture. “Nonprofits are nothing but passionate about their mission. Bring that energy into your space.”
Diversity. “The more people with different backgrounds and skills, the more variety of perspectives and resources there are for everyone in the workspace.”
Powerful stories. “Get some valuable PR and differentiate your space as a leader in social responsibility.”
Community support. “By allowing nonprofits and social impact organizations to work from your space, you are changing your community and the people in it, for good.”
Ultimately, the way coworking operators can differentiate and compete is on the non-tangible aspects: amenities and community. Making social impact work a stable part of that culture is one way for a coworking space to enrich their community and demonstrate their commitment to a cause.
Growing All Good Work chapter by chapter
The program has proven highly effective when a density of nonprofits and host spaces is reached, which is more often in urban areas. “It’s really about connections,’ Heasley explained. “Locations without the density of nonprofits or spaces are more problematic right now, as not all spaces or organizations are good fits.”
The more options of both, the more effective and successful the matches.
That’s why Heasley’s focus now is on establishing chapters in various cities, in order to expand in a more mindful and efficient way. He’s looking to connect with local coworking alliances and coalitions to establish these networks in various cities, starting with Denver, Colorado.
“Our team can help any coworking space or nonprofit that wants to create a program of their own,” Heasley noted. “If you’re trying to do good with a social responsibility program of any kind, we will find a way to help you.”