The University of Iowa

Public Space One - Models of Governance & and Member Engagement

Academic Year 
2020-2021
College/Department 
Tippie College of Business
Project Partner 
Led by 

Project #1: Public Space One recently completed a strategic planning process that captured the organization’s evolution and expansion over the past few years and set the stage for a new period of positive growth and change. In its strategic plan, Public Space One identifies practices around governance and decision-making as areas of strategic importance, including the desire to further democratize decision-making within the organization.

In this first project, a team of 5-6 students in Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness II will evaluate Public Space One’s existing organizational and decision-making structure and explore alternative models that may lead to a less top-down hierarchical model of management and decision-making. Possible models to consider include the worker self-directed model, the sociocratic model, hub-and-spoke model, and the swarm organizational model, among others. Students will work closely with Public Space One staff and board members to understand the specific goals and objectives of an updated decision-making model and will analyze the costs and benefits to the organization of the alternative models of governance.  Deliverables for the project include a final report and presentation that provides an analysis of the existing organizational model and alternative models of governance, and broad recommendations for the organizational structure moving forward.

Project #2: Public Space One currently has membership program that connects the organization to supporters, partners, collaborators and the public at large. Individuals are able to participate in two types of memberships: a Studio membership for the IC Press Co-op and a Sustaining Membership. The Studio membership gives artists access to a community studio and education in intaglio, relief, silkscreen, letterpress and book arts. The Sustaining membership is designed for individuals who give to Public Space One on a regular basis and invest in the broader organization as a whole. Although both memberships are successful in attracting members, Public Space One is interested in evaluating these programs and exploring whether modifications or alterations could enhance and optimize the membership program’s impact on the organization. In this project, a team of 5-6 students will work with Public Space one staff, board members and stakeholders to analyze the overall effectiveness of the membership programs and identify potential opportunities for enhancement. Students will examine membership communication and marketing, benefits to members (e.g. swag) and the impact of membership program on fundraising, development, and overall strategic growth for Public Space One. Deliverables for the project include a final report and presentation that provides analysis, key strategies and recommendations for ensuring Public Space One’s membership program is meeting the needs of the organization.