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How to Estimate the True Cost of Moving Your Nonprofit's Location

First, make a list of your nonprofit organization’s specific needs. If you’ve ever shopped for a house, you know that some features are critically important and some are desired but not essential. Breaking down your space needs by function and then including a list of general requirements helps. Consider current programs as well as programs you’re planning to introduce in the future.

Many nonprofit organizations have learned the hard way that having a beautiful new facility doesn’t necessarily mean that their students, patients, or audiences will go there. It is recommended that an organization conduct a simple marketing test of a location they’re considering. This “test” may take the form of a written survey, interviews, or an open house/walk-through at the proposed site followed by a discussion with current constituents.

Talk to nearby residents, merchants, and the local police, and spend time observing the site at different times of day.

Organizations often move to larger facilities when they want their programs to grow, and they discover the hard way that offering more seats, classes, or therapy sessions doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be used. When you conduct your marketing test, you need to know whether more people will go to your new location: Reach out to both clients and followers.

Your ideal location may change over time as the neighborhood changes. Before signing a new lease, explore whether its location is still meeting its needs.

Organizations with what seem to be straightforward plans for moving into new facilities often overlook the true costs of making such a move. Some spaces may need to be altered to suit your organization’s needs. Even when you fit right into your new offices, you encounter one-time charges such as signs, cleaning deposits, phone and Internet hookups, and fees or deposits for starting up your utilities.

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