Nonprofit Commercial Real Estate

We brought together Brad Carlin from Fusebox Festival, Dan Redman from Mosaic Sound Collective and Ariel Romell from Urban Land Institute Austin for a panel moderated by Matt McDonnell of Notley. The panel dove into the unique struggles of commercial real estate as experienced by nonprofits.

The panelists started by speaking about what they had learned from the experience and what they wished they knew before. 

  1. Assembling a team is key. Be sure that any members you bring onto your team are invested in the success of the project. Brokers, investors, advisors, general contractors, bankers etc. are often interested in completing a deal rather than tailoring a deal to meet your needs. One thing to ask external team members is"what other nonprofits have you worked with?" Nonprofits operate at a different speed and financial point, which must be understood by every individual.
  2. Be diligent in assembling an internal team, and don't forget your stakeholders. You've likely embarked on this project because there is "a group of stakeholders or a section of the community that you are aiming to serve, wherein real estate becomes an important tool for you." Bring these voices to the table every time and communicate their interests and reservations.
  3. Question everything. Don't assume the process by which deals are traditionally done applies to your organization. Challenge the constructs and limitations surrounding your project. "It's never been done" is not an answer, you can always work toward a creative solution that serves your mission. 
  4. Outline what success looks like for you. Dig into your specific needs, and ask questions. Evaluate your spacial needs, consider who is using your space and who may use your space in the future. Think about how your needs will change in 5 or 10 years. 
  5. Think creatively about your space. Can you rent out a parking lot or spare room? Is the furniture moveable? What creative solutions can you implement from the beginning?

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