Local Nonprofit Aims to Make a World of Difference
by Claire Shinn
An array of colors and personalities will greet you every time you enter the Nonprofit Hub coworking space on the corner of 14th and P Streets. In the midst of that array lies a circle of desks belonging to the office’s permanent staff. Some of them are experienced professionals while a few are hot off the press, straight from (or still in) college. No matter the length of their stay, however, this team is working together toward an important goal.
Nonprofit Hub Gets Its Start
Nonprofit Hub was born as a 501(c)(3) in 2011. The nonprofit got its start as an online-only resource to provide education to nonprofits across the nation. Four years later, Nonprofit Hub located to a new space, which officially opened its doors in January 2015.
Nonprofit Hub’s Executive Director, Randy Hawthorne, modeled his idea for the space after one that he had seen in Portland, Oregon. The two-level, 12,000-square-foot office can accommodate up to 100 members each day. The area is equipped with private offices, collaborative cubicles and day desks that can be rented by organizations that can’t afford a commercial space otherwise. Members of Nonprofit Hub have access to Wi-Fi, office supplies, a permanent address to receive mail and more. Even throughout the transition to their downtown digs, Nonprofit Hub’s mission has remained the same: to offer nonprofits the resources they need to make a positive change in the world.
Inside the Space
From coast to coast, coworking spaces like Nonprofit Hub are on the rise. In cities all over, individuals and organizations that don’t have a building of their own can come to spaces like these for an opportunity to work alongside like-minded individuals.
Although their members may be like-minded, there is no shortage of variety. Most recently, Nonprofit Hub served as headquarters for the Hear Nebraska operations during Lincoln Calling, an annual music festival held throughout downtown Lincoln. The space is also home to a wide range of organizations including the Nebraska Civic Engagement Table, Carson + Co Global consulting and Launch Leadership.
There’s an energy in the Nonprofit Hub building that’s contagious. It’s open to a diverse group of people that are all willing to work together and listen to ideas. “It’s so awesome to see the collaboration that goes on in this space,” says Hawthorne. “I love the community that comes through our doors every day. It’s so cool see that community working to solve social issues.”
That’s what lies at the core of this place: solving social issues. The Nonprofit Hub staff provides both education and a collaborative work environment to further that mission, and they listen to a lot of ideas. A lot.
Spreading Social Impact
In today’s age, the young workforce is growing faster than ever. Millennials are looking for opportunities to make an impact on the world, and businesses are looking for new ways to accommodate that desire. This understanding launched Nonprofit Hub into their latest project: Revo.
In 2015, Hawthorne began brainstorming with a team of nonprofit professionals around a new idea: how can you help businesses understand that making a profit and making a difference can be one in the same?
For years, Hawthorne has been fighting the impression that nonprofits have to operate a certain way because of their tax status. Instead, he emphasizes that nonprofits should run just like a business. As a result, his transition with Revo into the for-profit world was a natural one.
Together, Hawthorne and his team developed Revo, an organization seeking to start a revolution in social impact throughout the Midwest. Revo became a reality this year with the launch of its first Revved Up event, a series of happy hours that feature speakers and discussions to educate businesses about how they can get their start in social impact.
Revo offers a number of other programs including What’s Your Why, a workshop designed to guide businesses in refining their vision, mission and value statements. By helping entrepreneurs and local businesses “find their ‘why,’” they hope to fill the community with more purpose-driven organizations, like B Corps and benefit corporations.
The road to becoming a certified B Corp or benefit corporation is by no means an easy one. To become certified, an organization needs a mission that’s focused on solving social or environmental issues while keeping its workers’ best interests in mind. Then, after meeting accountability standards and legal obligations, an organization can be officially accredited.
Revo hopes to assist businesses in making sense of this lengthy process. They’re helping organizations find greater importance by uncovering the “why” for what they do. “We’re starting by spreading the word and inspiring our community” said Nonprofit Hub’s Associate Director Matt Spitsen of Revo’s recent efforts. “[We’re] showing them that this isn’t anything new.”
The buck doesn’t stop there, though—Nonprofit Hub has continued to extend its reach throughout the community elsewhere. They’ve formed a management contract with Volunteer Partners, a fellow nonprofit in Lincoln. The organization connects willing volunteers with local opportunities to generate maximum impact. Currently, Hawthorne functions as their Executive Director, and Nonprofit Hub contributes with marketing odds and ends.
For its entire existence, Nonprofit Hub’s purpose has remained greatly the same. Through their office space’s vibrant culture and widespread online resources, they offer organizations the help they need to make a positive impact on the world. Little by little, this establishment is shaping the nonprofit sector and the way it operates. Although the organization has been up and running for under a decade, it’s here and ready to stick around. Simply put, Nonprofit Hub is here for good.