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Learn More About 501 Commons

Nonprofit support, management and technology consulting and free information and referral services

Who We Are

Our Mission

We all rise when nonprofits thrive. At 501 Commons we serve nonprofits as experts, innovators, and partners. Our passion is to amplify the strengths of nonprofits—so ALL people and communities flourish.

501 Commons provides expertise to nonprofits through 30+ services, including a full range of management consulting; technology consulting (IT planning and database development); outsourced HR, accounting, IT infrastructure, and database management services; professional development and board training; and free advisory services.

We also provide a fundraising platform and host GiveBIG, a Washington State fundraising event that raised more than $17.4 million in donations, match, and in-kind contributions in 2021. We also promote participation in Giving Tuesday. We offer a cohort program for community-based organizations focused on Black and Indigenous communities, manage a capacity-building fund for Black and Indigenous organizations, and welcome a Black, Indigenous, and immigrant community organizations into the GiveBIG Campaign Support Program, which helps organizations dramatically expand their fundraising.

In 2021, we completed 1,100 client engagements with 700 organizations in the Pacific Northwest and around the US. More than 70% of these organization have budgets below $1.5 million, with half having budgets of less than $500,000.  This reflects the characteristics of the nonprofit sector, where most organizations are small and have few, if any, paid staff.

The values that guide our work are:

  • Respect
  • Integrity and transparency
  • Inclusion
  • Accessibility
  • Partnership
  • Results
501 Commons has a multiracial and multicultural staff, volunteer corps, and board of directors. Our clients are very diverse with many based in and focused on specific ethnic or racial communities. This diversity is a strength and provides opportunities to foster inclusiveness and to approach our work with an anti-racist and anti-oppression framework. Read about how we’ve built inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility (IDEA) into our internal practices and work with clients.

How we accomplish our mission

501 Commons' services strengthen leaders, build healthy organizations, and foster community engagement.

STRONG LEADERS
We amplify the strengths of leaders:

  • Leadership coaching
  • Executive advising & convenings
  • Learning programs, fundraising training, & Staff Development Coalition
  • Free informational resources, advice, & referrals


HEALTHY ORGANIZATIONS
We build capacity through consulting and stable back-office support:

  • Finance & tax services
  • Management, including governance & planning
  • Technology, data systems, & collaboration tools
  • HR services informed by the principles of IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, & access)


ENGAGED COMMUNITIES
Cultivate & deepen community impact:

  • Advocacy training for staff & boards
  • Executive Service Corps members delivering services valued at $1 million
  • Volunteer program development & training for volunteer managers
  • Washington Gives year-round giving platform, including the GiveBIG & Giving Tuesday generosity campaigns, which together generated $18.4 million for 1,700+ Washington organizations

As a nonprofit ourselves, we are grateful for the support we receive from individual donors and dozens of philanthropic partners. This support allows us to keep services affordable to nonprofits of all sizes.  Annually, our services strengthen more than 2,000 nonprofits, improving the quality of life for people and communities throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

COVID Response

The pandemic has required nonprofits to pivot their services and internal processes. Great strength, skill, and balance has been needed to adapt their missions to the ever-changing situation. Most received no government support. 501 Commons rose to bolster these nonprofits and help them to move fundraising online, deploy technology for remote work and services, take financial systems virtual, and tap into federal programs. Our Human Resources team helps our partners support and supervise remote employees and keep their teams safe. Service corps members, including many former nonprofit executives, are providing 6 hours of free advisory support to help leaders with the issues they continue to face daily.

We are awed by the the grace and skill of nonprofits as they serve our communities during one of the greatest crises in our nation's history. Whatever challenges our communities face, 501 Commons will be here to solve problems and support nonprofits.

Our Story

501 Commons was founded in 1989 as Executive Service Corps of Washington. In 2010, we changed our name to 501 Commons, reflecting a changing role and broader range of services. In 2012, we absorbed some of the programs and services of the Alliance for Nonprofits and the technology services of NPower Northwest. Most of our clients are in the Pacific Northwest, but most of our services are available to nonprofits in other geographic areas. 

Our name is based on the principle of the "the commons." The commons can be characterized as having five distinct attributes:

  1. Free and uncoerced participation
  2. A shared purpose
  3. Jointly held resources
  4. A sense of mutuality
  5. Relationships that are characterized by justice and fairness

Our Theory of Practice describes how we approach our work and our Team Charter describes how our team of 50+ work together to serve our clients.

501 Commons is a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible, nonprofit, charitable organization and is a member of the Executive Service Corps - United States. By making a donation or volunteering your time to 501 Commons, you are impacting the success of more than 2,000 organizations. Join us!

Where We Serve

Our home office is located on the 11th floor of Pacific Tower in Seattle’s north Beacon Hill neighborhood. Pacific Tower has a long storied tradition of service to the community. The building fosters a unique model of cross-organizational collaboration, acting as a dynamic hub of nonprofits dedicated to healthcare, education, social services, and job creation.

The majority of 501 Commons’ client organizations are from the Pacific Northwest, although we serve organizations in 20–30 states each year. 501 Commons' office are on the traditional homelands of the tribes of the Coast Salish and Duwamish people. We respect and honor these people and their sovereign tribal nations. Our community has been enriched by their past and current stewardship of these lands and contributions to our history, culture, and economy.

Our Clients

Each year, we work with 2,000+ nonprofits in the Pacific Northwest and around the United States. We provide services to all types and sizes of nonprofit organizations.

View the List

Our Theory of Practice

At 501 Commons, everything we do is based on a "theory of practice" framework drawn from research on nonprofit capacity building and our nonprofit experience. Through this, we have identified "Five Elements of a Healthy Nonprofit."

Learn More

Our Partnerships & Collaborations

We believe in the power of collaboration. Working together with other organizations gets us further faster. Here are some of our connections to other capacity builders doing good in Washington state.

Explore Connections

Strengthening Our Sector

We work to unleash the potential of nonprofits in our state by providing access to affordable services, so they can achieve their mission.

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