Many congregations these days find themselves loaded with space they cannot use, but hate to see it wasted. They would love to see groups from the community use the space, perhaps for a reasonable fee. Such an arrangement benefits everyone: congregations build relationships with groups they believe in and generate some income at the same time. Community groups or individuals – like artists – utilize good space at below market rental fees. Everyone in the surrounding neighborhood delights in seeing a building alive with activity.
But how does a congregation find a suitable group or individual to use their space? How does a community group or individual learn about available space in a sacred building? How does the congregation set up a user agreement or lease, negotiate expectations, and take precautions up front that will ensure good a relationship with tenants over time?
Partners for Sacred Places, a non-profit organization devoted to the care and preservation of sacred buildings, has devised a solution to the space sharing challenge. They have created an online space sharing program called “iSPi,” which will launch in November 2014. This website “will match sacred places and community partners so that they can share space, resources and volunteers. These matches will be based not only on a compatibility of space needs and square footage, but rooted in a marriage of mission and vision.”
Partners can help your congregational leaders learn more about space sharing and how to benefit from their new online hub. Their service is free. For more detailed information about iSPi, see this link at the Partners for Sacred Places website: http://www.sacredplaces.org/reimagine-your-community/arts-culture/online-space-matching-hub/ispi-online-space-matching-hub. You can also call their Chicago office at: 866-796-0297.
To learn more in person, you can attend the Center for Congregations luncheon workshop series Creative Funding Sources, featuring staff from the Chicago office of Partners for Sacred Places. The first topic will be an introduction to space sharing through the iSPi program. The second luncheon covers new ways to generate revenue for mission and building expenses. To learn more about these luncheon workshops, see http://centerforcongregations.org/workshop/creative-funding-sources-leverage-your-best-qualities-generate-revenue.
Beloved buildings cry out for full use. A little creative matchmaking between congregations and community partners could go a long way.