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Risky business - how property is shaping the fate of our voluntary sector

Elizabeth Pearson | 25.11.16

What is the biggest threat facing charities? Political uncertainty? Lack of funding? Negative press?

According to the Ethical Property Foundation’s survey Risky Business – How Property is Shaping the Fate of our Voluntary Sector, it's something else entirely. From over 400 respondents across England and Wales, 45% believe their property is the biggest threat to their organisation. 

Many charities feel they have the day to day expertise in managing their premises but do not have a plan about how best to use and manage their buildings in the long term.  43% suffered from unexpected building costs and close to one third are worried about how long they can continue to be in their current premises.  The costs of professional advice have prevented half of those surveyed from seeking help. 

As the property industry charity, LandAid is uniquely placed to offer a solution. Our Free Property Advice Service arranges for skilled property professionals from our network of supporters to give free property expertise to UK charities supporting disadvantaged young people, families and communities.  We work with charities to define the advice they need and then match them with a local company with the right skills.

It really works! This year 95% of the charities we found property advice for said they would recommend our service and 95% of those giving their time and skills would also do so again. The property advice received has improved the charities' general knowledge and confidence in dealing with property issues and saved them money in fees and building costs.  It also enabled them to improve the quality and range of front line services they could offer and the quality of environment in which they were delivered.

Some of our recent successes:

Mayer Brown is advising PATH (Plymouth Access to Housing) on the lease, purchase and financing of two properties, which they are turning into accommodation for homeless young people. 

CBRE is supporting Enfield Citizens Advice Bureau to find a property where they can set up a charity shop to create additional income to support their advice services. 

Sutton Griffin Architects advised YMCA Basingstoke on the conversion of empty first floor office spaces into self-contained flats for women who have experienced domestic violence. They helped them with the internal layout to create the best accommodation and bedrooms required. 

And Macegreen Consulting, Telereal Trillium and Live-in Guardians advised Sherborne in the Community on the maintenance costs and valuation of their building and what to do when it was occupied illegally.

At LandAid we believe charities shouldn’t see property as a threat – but as something that can enable vital services to be delivered sustainably in the long term.

We are always looking for charities to support.  If you are a registered charity working in the UK supporting disadvantaged young people, families and communities, please apply here for free property advice. Or please do get in touch.  

Photo: property that is being converted into supported accommodation for young people in Barking with grant funding from LandAid and SEGRO and pro bono architectural and planning advice from CBRE.