Why Nonprofits Are Acting More Like For Profits Today


The strength of the economy has helped non-profits initiate a wave of new hiring, which has led organizations to develop smarter space configuration and workplace strategies typically found in the for profit sector.

CBRE’s ninth Annual Nonprofit Real Estate Benchmarking Survey, which focuses on 501(c) (3), 501 (c)(6), and 501 (c)(4) organizations in 26 states, reports 43 percent of organizations have reported expanding their leases over the past three years.

However, as organizations have expanded, square-footage per employee has dropped dramatically.

  • In 2009, the average square footage per employee was 561 square feet for firms with 19 or fewer employees. In 2015, that figure is down to 479 square feet, almost a 15 percent reduction.
  • For firms of 20 or more employees the drop is even larger, as square-footage has been reduced from 403 square feet per person to 314, a 22 percent difference.

“For some nonprofits, this has meant switching from traditional office layouts to more open spaces, which has become very popular for many corporations,” said Gregg Witt of CBRE’s Nonprofit Practice Group.

According to the survey, 37 percent said that they could operate more efficiently in an open floor plan versus private offices, up from 31 percent who agreed with this approach in 2013.

Other survey findings include:

  • More nonprofits moved from the suburbs to the CBD in the past four years, while suburb-to-suburb movement has decreased.
  • Half of the respondents anticipate a 1-5 percent annual growth in 2015, while 18 percent expect more than 6 percent growth, a 70-basis-point climb from 2014 findings.

To read the national nonprofit report, please click here.

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