Finding the right place is a dilemma for many not-for-profits, especially when they are just starting out. You need a base for your operations but until you can attract donors your resources are limited. Unlike businesses, you cannot rely on investors to cover initial expenses and it is hard for an NPO to get approved for a loan.
So what should you do? Well, here are some tips to consider.
Consider making it home-based
Working your nonprofit right out of your home is nothing to be ashamed about. It can even be highly beneficial. Not only will you be able to keep costs and your overhead down but you will also save on time, money and effort in commuting to a place of business everyday. You can furnish it with inexpensive equipment that you might already have and just arrange for virtual services to economise even further.
Turn to your local community
When it is too expensive for you to rent an office at some high-rise building, ask for help from people in your area. Since most, if not all, NPOs are community-driven, a great place to look for low cost commercial property is a church or school. Most are big enough to accommodate your needs and they would be more than willing to offer their assistance. At such a location, you can save about thousands per year though you will likely have to arrange for certain business solutions like message taking.
Ask your directors
If you have a board of directors, you should check if any members have their own business where they will allow you to rent a facility for free or at a discount. Since you hand-picked your advisers from the beginning, you will quite naturally be on a favourable working relationship with them. Most likely, they will have a branch that is not too far away from where you need to be for your missions.
Use a provider with experience
If you are looking for office space on your own and you have not been successful, consider securing the services of a competent agent who is intimately familiar in dealing with all kinds of organisations. Perform your due diligence with these professionals to find the one the suits you best. Normally these brokers already have locations listed that could meet your parameters.
Be on the look out for grants
There are many grant programmes out there with many of them who understand the needs of not-for-profits. Search these out in directories you can find online or even at a local library. See which ones can help you in securing appropriate real estate. Some foundations provide subsidies to partially pay your rental requirements. Others can offset the cost of overhead, supplies and equipment.
Share with another organisation
One of the best ways you can save money is to share a place with another group. They do not have to be another NPO. They could simply be another business that has some extra room for you to sublease at a low cost. You can even exchange your services in bookkeeping or parcel delivery to pay for your portion of the rent. Just make sure that the facility you find will not be in conflict with your purposes or goals.
With the high costs of real estate, it is not always possible for a nonprofit to lease commercial space right away. However, that should not stop you from fulfilling your mission. Sometimes, you have to think of alternatives like the kind discussed above. Then, you can just arrange for virtual solutions, such as mail handling and telephone answering, along with meeting rooms so you can stay productive in changing the world.
About the Author
Regus in the Philippines caters to the needs of for-profit and non-profit organisations looking for quality meeting rooms and office spaces for rent. They also specialise in virtual services such as mail handling and telephone answering to address all aspects of running an operation.