Commentary: Charity Inc.: Why Nonprofits Need a Real Estate Plan

Article excerpt

Star Trek's opening line is one of those iconic phrases that almost any American - sci-fi fan or not - can recognize. But while fascination with warp speeds and alien worlds fuels the imagination, nonprofit organizations wrestle with a more realistic concept of space each day.

Whether bursting at the seams, or dealing with less-than- desirable spaces to work or provide services, nonprofits realize that having strategies around real estate are as important to the bottom line as budgeting, fundraising and managing human capital. Many nonprofits have come to learn that real estate can be a worry, headache, blessing or dream - and sometimes a combination of all.

All organizations have specific real estate needs. A symphony needs a concert hall. A food bank needs a warehouse. A social service agency might need housing for clients. And almost every nonprofit needs office space. How effectively that space is utilized should be part of every strategic plan.

Nonprofit boards are responsible for providing adequate resources for organizations to be effective, and real estate is a significant piece of that puzzle.

Organizations have the option to own real estate or lease space, and boards should work with real estate professionals to determine the best options. A careful examination and assessment from real estate and space-planning professionals can reveal that an organization might be better suited to a smaller, more efficient space, leaving more money for programs and services. …