Nonprofit Office Space Searching Tips

A few years ago when I had the task of finding a new office space for my previous organization, I jumped into that process I wondering what steps do I take?  I forged ahead and learned as I went along. However, I am now going through that process again with my current organization and wanted to provide a few tips to make it easier for nonprofits who are also currently looking for office space.

1. I signed up for the Northern California Community Loan Fund's (NCCLF) Space Matching service. NCCLF sends out a monthly Space Matching e-mail that lists office space specifically for nonprofits and also nonprofits looking for office space in the Bay Area. Mary McNamara administers this list.  I have been very happy with this service and "found" two offices through the list that have come to fruition.

2. I contacted my commercial real estate broker.  A couple of years ago I found Dave Berry from GVA Whitney Cressman through  He frequently works with nonprofits and he helped Compumentor to find their current space.

*Just as a FYI* Brokers are great because they receive a detailed listing service and can show you spaces that match your specific requirements, like number of private offices, total square feet, and location.  Brokers do receive a commission but that commission is paid solely by the building owner/landlord-you don't have to pay a penny for their services.  I have really benefited from the advice from my broker as well as his help during lease negotiations.

3. I contacted the multi-tenant office spaces for nonprofits listed on the Nonprofit Centers Network to see what available space they had. You can do a search by state on the Nonprofit Centers website.  The centers listed on this site are great because many of them provide a shared conference room and other amenities that renting an office space on your own doesn't have.

4. I also followed traditional methods of contacting spaces listed on and called some phone numbers listed on available space signs on buildings.

Things to know:

  • Rentable Sq. vs Usable Sq.:  Usable Sq. feet is the actual Sq. Feet of the space, compared to Rentable Sq. Feet which includes a percentage of the common areas-hallway, lobby, elevator.  Most offices space prices are listed by Rentable Sq. Feet.
  • Class A, B, C space:  This is fairly self explanatory, Class A office spaces are brand new buildings, have all the amenities, and cost the most. Class B spaces are a little older, have less amenities, and cost less.  Class C spaces are even older or run down, have less amenities then Class B, and tend to be affordable.
  • Full Service: Includes utilities, however this is deceiving because if you sign a long-term lease in a Full Service building, you will still have to pay a percentage of the building's operating costs. This percentage is based on what percentage of the building that you occupy, so you still end up paying for utilities, just in a different way. 
  • You always want to have your lease reviewed by a Commercial Real Estate Attorney.  Even if your landlord says it is a standard lease.  Your landlord could add things into the lease that aren't standard like make you responsible for all the maintenance improvements in the space. I use Kate Neiswender, she's quick and affordable for nonprofits.