Shared Spaces between Nonprofit Leadership Alliance and Camp Fire

MRCLogoColor The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance has been building a talent pipeline for nearly 70 years. Since 1948, the Alliance has been working to increase its impact in the nonprofit sector by offering its nationally recognized credential, the Certified Nonprofit Professional or CNP.

The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri for many reasons. Arguably, our the main reason is the founder, H. Roe Bartle – a Kansas City icon, former Mayor and Boy Scout leader. Bartle thrived in the Kansas City community and made a conscious effort to build a solid foundation for the local sector. Making its home in Kansas City is only appropriate. The Alliance is dedicated to building strong leadership, strong communities and strong organizations, and Kansas City is one of the country’s most active philanthropic communities.

The Alliance has been in Kansas City since its founding. Its offices have had four KC addresses. About half of these years, it has shared space with Camp Fire, one of its national nonprofit workforce partners which is also headquartered in KC. There is a misconception to sharing an office space – only start-ups or small organizations would want to share their space with another company. Despite this perception, co-locating with Camp Fire is a great success. Many reasons make sharing space with another organization beneficial.

Three major benefits of shared space:
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Cost saving: Nonprofit Leadership Alliance and Camp Fire significantly cut costs on monthly rent, furnishings, parking . . . the list goes on. Splitting the cost of these expenses is beneficial for obvious reasons. The Alliance estimates that it save more than $50,000 annually by sharing space. Big costs matter a lot. But little costs add up quickly. Small costs are easy to forget until the monthly bill rolls up. Sharing those expenses with another organization not only cuts the prices but also the stress of managing so many moving parts. Nonprofit Leadership Alliance is a sub-lessee of Camp Fire.

Allocating staff time: Sharing space is great for both teams because it allows each to appropriately allocate staff time. They have a shared services role within their operations staff. The duties of this position are to serve as the primary point of contact for our property management vendors (landlord, parking, janitorial, etc), keep the break room items stocked, and place all office supply orders. The shared services person distributes the mail and tidies the break room each day, jobs that become backlogged when someone is not specifically responsible. The two organizations split the direct costs of these items proportionately and then receive a credit on their rent each month to cover the shared services staff time.

Open floor concept: Although these organizations were early to jump on the shared space trend (more than 30 years and running), they are still learning how to maximize the arrangement. The current Crossroads office in the Lead Bank building is their third shared space location. When they were space planning for this move, they agreed to create an open floor design. Open space means fewer walls and less square footage, which translate into savings on tenant improvements and monthly rent. They also reduced their on-site meeting space. With their new building, large room rental is available. Although they have to pay to use this space, they are saving by not paying daily rental for meeting space that is rarely used, which is what they did in previous offices.

This kind of sharing is not the same as sharing a room with a younger sibling, where you fight over the remote control or whether or not you left the light on. Sharing this space forces these organizations to be more considerate; being nonprofits, their organizations understand this concept. Sharing space may seem taboo to many large corporate organizations, but these organizations see it as an everyday chance to emphasize community.


For the benefit of the nonprofit sector everywhere, we wanted to provide resources for ways we can continue to operate and grow within this era. And once social distancing begins to fade, what lessons can we take from this to improve our operations permanently. Come back often for more updates.