Co-working space with charity bent to launch in Lawrence

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Not-for-profit leaders have entrepreneurial ideas, too. And just like their for-profit counterparts, they need office space that's not at a coffee shop or in their homes.

That's the premise behind Launch Cause, a new co-working space that aims to help not-for-profits get off the ground. Officials bill it as the first co-working space in Indiana with that focus. It plans to open its doors in Lawrence next spring.

Launch Cause steven Shattuck mugSteven Shattuck

Launch was co-founded by Steven Shattuck, the 31-year-old vice president of marketing at Bloomerang, which sells donor database software to not-for-profits across the country. Bloomerang CEO Jay Love is co-founder and chairman.

"I want to help start some really cool nonprofits," said Shattuck, executive director of Launch Cause. "I want to be able to say, 'Hey, they started with us and now they've got 10 employees, they've raised a million dollars, they're funding awesome research.'"

Launch Cause will occupy just under 7,000 square feet of space at 5724 Birtz Road, on the top floor of a two-story building now under construction. Bloomerang owns the building, which sits on land donated earlier this year by the Fort Harrison Reuse Authority.

The space will include 14 offices, 21 semi-private workstations, and co-working space for up to 30 people. Prices are expected to range from $10 a day for drop-ins to $650 a month for a large private office.

Launch Cause is accepting applications for scholarships that would grant free use of space for six months. Shattuck said applicants so far include an organic bakery and an organization that grants wishes for military members and their families.

Christina McDougall, founder and executive director of Hoosier Farmers Market Association, is one of the few applicants granted a scholarship so far. Her not-for-profit works with farmer's markets across the state on initiatives such as increasing the number of farms able to accept SNAP benefits.

McDougall started the group in October 2014 and said in her application that her organization is “in need of a space to hold workshops and meet with our fee-for-service farmer's market and vendor clients in an approachable environment.”

“Presently, our location depends on the day,” she said in an email to IBJ. “I'm fortunate to have a board, partners, advisors and member markets offer space as needed."

Shattuck said it's never been easier to start and promote not-for-profits, helped in part by social media and historically low technology expenses. Still, not-for-profits face unique challenges and need space and mailing addresses that aren't tied to executives' homes.

"As a tech company, you can get away with creating that out of your basement. But with a nonprofit, it's difficult," he said. "You need that physical asset. You need that credibility if you're fundraising, if you're having meetings, if you want to accept mail."

Shattuck said Launch Cause is also open to "social entrepreneurs," those with for-profit outfits working to advance some social cause.

Bloomerang "gifted" the space, Shattuck said, so there will only be operational expenses and, down the road, probably payroll expenses for employees such as an office manager. Shattuck, who will retain his position with Bloomerang, will not receive a salary from Launch Cause.

"As long as we break even on the expenses, I'm happy," he said.

Launch Cause space will feature a dedicated kitchen, outdoor seating, Wi-Fi, conference rooms and office equipment. It will hold monthly “lunch and learn” sessions and weekly webinars for members, officials said, along with community events open to all.

Shattuck said the idea for Launch Cause started taking form about a year ago, as Bloomerang officials mulled what to do with the free floor in their new building.

He said the local co-working boom gave him the idea. He modeled Launch Cause after a similar space called Nonprofit Hub in Lincoln, Nebraska. After getting the green light, he began forming a board and raising money to build out and furnish the space. 

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