The ShareBuilt Story

by | Design-Build, Facilities

As the founder and Executive Director of ShareBuilt, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting construction professionals with charitable groups in need, I am driven by a profound desire to make a meaningful impact on communities. The inception of ShareBuilt stems from my recognition of a significant gap in the market, where small and medium-sized nonprofit organizations often lack access to essential design and construction knowledge when facing a capital project.

My Journey

My journey began as a construction management alumnus from the University of Cincinnati, where I developed a deep appreciation for the impact of buildings on many aspects of society. I quickly gravitated towards constructing buildings for clients with whom I could develop a relationship with the users and see the benefits of the finished project. Projects like K-12 schools, higher education clients, and hospitals have a clear impact on our society. Later in my career, I have been fortunate to work on projects for major national brands like McDonald’s, Walgreens, and Starbucks as the founding member and executive vice president of Sevan Multi-Site Solutions. However, it was my passion for nonprofits and helping them get noticed in a hyper-busy construction environment that truly ignited my desire to leverage my expertise in a way that could benefit those in need.

The Birth of ShareBuilt

Over the years, I have supported various construction efforts for churches, schools, nonprofits, and individuals facing building needs beyond their financial means. It was through these experiences that I witnessed firsthand the challenges faced by charitable organizations in accessing the necessary resources and expertise to accomplish their construction dreams. This realization became the driving force behind the establishment of ShareBuilt in April 2022.

Addressing a Common Need

Our primary goal is to help nonprofits tell their stories in a way that resonates with the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) community, attracting the necessary support to bring their visions to life. ShareBuilt was born out of a vision to facilitate meaningful impacts on communities by providing construction support to those in need. I recognized the lack of attention sometimes given to nonprofits by extremely busy contractors and saw an opportunity to bridge this gap through a “dating service” type approach. By connecting organizations requiring design and construction assistance with willing design and construction professionals, ShareBuilt aims to address the overlooked construction needs of small and medium-sized nonprofit organizations.

Project Shepherds: Our Volunteer Heroes

At the core of our operational model are volunteers known as “Project Shepherds,” who act as the owners’ representatives on a pro bono basis. These seasoned design and construction professionals donate their time to serve as a coach and support to nonprofits faced with designing and building a capital project, often for the very first time. The beauty of this approach is that the immense experience of these dedicated individuals is not lost as they wind down their careers.

Impactful Projects and Expanding Reach

Since its inception, ShareBuilt has facilitated various impactful projects including counseling centers, churches, schools, and community centers, including some early projects for individuals needing home renovations for individuals facing health challenges. We believe that our calling, however, is to serve those nonprofit organization who are called to serve others. When ShareBuilt can come alongside and support many nonprofits facing a design and construction project, we are helping them be the very best stewards of the funds that have been entrusted to them to accomplish their mission rather than spend more than they should on designing and building, which they often know very little about. ShareBuilt has a multiplication impact across a wide portion of the nonprofit community as we help to accomplish projects with purpose for less.

The Potential of Broader Impact

As our organization continues to grow, we have a view towards, though not an expectation of, serving a far wider geography. If The Lord blesses this effort, we will explore what it would look like to be intentional in an expansion beyond Middle Tennessee. The challenges faced by nonprofits are not unique to Middle Tennessee, and the commitment I have seen by countless AEC firms throughout the country to serve nonprofits is universal. We believe there is great benefit in providing a platform to help nonprofit clients and AEC firms everywhere to better connect and ensure that the nonprofit project needs are as well-known as is possible.

Working Together 

My vision for ShareBuilt is rooted in the belief that individuals should give back their time, treasure and talents whenever possible to make a meaningful impact on communities in need. If the AEC community knows more, they will do more. It is important to note, however, that ShareBuilt is not in the business of pushing for specific donations or expecting pro bono work or managing gifts in kind on behalf of nonprofits. All contractual relationships are between the nonprofit and the design or construction firms directly. 

Each nonprofit client remains responsible for raising the funds for their own project. Raising funds for individual projects is not ShareBuilt’s role, though we can direct clients seeking assistance to many firms skilled in capital campaigns and nonprofit financial services. 

Our goal is to work with each nonprofit to accomplish three things: 1) Raise the awareness of the nonprofit’s mission and purpose, 2) tell the story of their project and how it helps advance their mission, and 3) the impact the project will have on their community. We do this through our website and our social media as well as through Procore. Procore, a leading cloud-based construction project management software platform, provides nonprofits like ShareBuilt the gift of no-cost access to their platform, including access to more than 600,000 contractors nationwide. 

As more contractors are aware of an individual project, the better the response will be, leading to overall lower project costs. Some firms may bid their portion of the work with a market rate response, which is great as many projects today often struggle to attract sufficient bidders in many trades due to very busy construction volume. But others are likely to offer discounted labor or material rates or perhaps even a full donation of labor and materials based on how they value the work of the nonprofit organization. Again, all of this is the business of each AEC firm responding, and they will contract directly with the nonprofit or through the Architect or Contractor as appropriate.  ShareBuilt helps bring all parties to the table  so that more is accomplished for less.

Charitable Funding Model

ShareBuilt is a unique 501c3. We only started ShareBuilt after searching nationwide without finding another organization meeting this need.  We believe we are called to support our nonprofit clients at no cost to them beyond any voluntary support they may elect to provide to ShareBuilt to help us “pay it forward”. We can only do this at no cost through the generous support of individuals and many different companies, many of whom are AEC firms. To support ShareBuilt’s mission of connecting design and construction partners with nonprofits in need, ShareBuilt invites individuals and companies to financially contribute in various ways. Regular individual and corporate donations provide a reliable source of income, enabling us to better support the organizations we serve. Spreading awareness about our mission and initiatives can help attract more support from the community.

For those interested in donating to ShareBuilt, we welcome financial contributions, which directly support our operations to help nonprofit clients tell their story of need. Additionally, individuals with experience in grant writing can assist us in securing funding through grants, thereby contributing to our growth.

A Bright Future

The first two years of the ShareBuilt story have validated our founding premise that raising awareness of the design and construction needs of nonprofits results in more corporate participation and lower project costs. 

The needs are truly great, but we know the resources are far, far greater. Reach out and let me know if you would like to partner with us or learn more about how you can be a key part of accomplishing projects with purpose.

About the author

Steve Kuhn is the founder of ShareBuilt, a nonprofit organization, that directly connects those in need of new/renovated facilities to AEC organizations with resources to meet those needs and professionals called to serve their communities. For more information go to https://sharebuilt.org/ or email Steve at steve.kuhn@sharebuilt.org.

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