Nonprofit and Trade Association Trends

Benchmarking data compiled from OTJ projects during the past five years for nonprofits and trade associations shows a wide range of square footages per staff member. Nonprofits have a range of 140-350 square feet per person and trade associations are in the 250-375 square footage range. While not fully embracing the mostly open environments typically preferred by technology companies, nonprofits have a 35:65 ratio on average of offices to workstations, whereas associations check in at a 50:50 ratio.

Through this comprehensive comparison and benchmarking data analysis (shown below), OTJ has also seen decreased reception sizes, flexible event spaces and creative branding highlight the current design trends in the nonprofit and association industries.

Let’s take a closer look at these design trends:

Reception areas are being reduced in size. Nonprofit and associations are now requiring less space for a designated waiting area because of the increased use of technology that allows for virtual meetings and constant connectivity. One example where this can be see is The Aluminum Association’s recently completed office (below), which features limited seating in reception.

Aluminum Association Reception

Flexible event spaces ensure these areas do not go unused on a day-to-day basis. Due to the donations, grants and members providing support to nonprofits and associations, the ability to host in-house events is essential. These multi-purpose spaces are not only dedicated to events – they function in a variety of ways to enable everything from conferences, yoga classes, all-staff meetings, wine tastings and more. Flexibility is key for a nonprofit or association to use its workplace smartly and efficiently.

The National Restaurant Association features a showpiece dining and event area in the heart of the space that would not remain idle in daily use. Therefore, the design of the multi-functional studio kitchen allows it to serve as an exhibition kitchen, event space, meeting space and café. The adjacent bar, seating area and outdoor terrace create a unique event space capable of hosting 400 people.


American Gaming Association utilizes the reception area with adjacent flexible conference space for larger gatherings in an open setting.

American Gaming Association Reception

Branding is increasingly important to both a nonprofit’s or an association’s staff and membership.  Whether it is to showcase the supporters who contribute to an organization’s continued success or to portray the mission and history of an organization, the integration of company branding is an important design driver. The US Travel Association shows its appreciation for contributors through a sophisticated plaque wall (top), while the carefully placed branding elements throughout the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers office (bottom) are a vivid depiction of the company’s member base and function.

USTA Art Wall & Reception           Auto Alliance Conference Room

OTJ has completed more than 100 projects for nonprofit and association organizations in the Washington, DC, area. We apply our many years of experience and benchmarking data from similar organizations to create cost-effective solutions for achieving project goals and objectives.

If you have any questions about Nonprofit and Association Trends, please contact OTJ Architects today by calling 202-621-1000 or visit today!  You can also follow OTJ on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+.

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