Patron Profile: Richard Rees, Savills

Richard Rees, Managing Director and Head of National Development Services at Savills, is a member of the LandAid Patrons Network – a collection of senior property leaders and LandAid alumni who are collectively using their knowledge and influence in the property and built environment industry to help support our mission to end youth homelessness. 


We sat down with Richard – who also became LandAid’s top individual fundraiser ever last month, after raising almost £19,000 at this year’s SleepOut – to chat about how small actions, even in a large organisation such as Savills, can make a big difference. 

What motivates you to support LandAid as a member of the Patrons Network?

Savills is one of LandAid’s Strategic Partners, and we whole-heartedly support its mission to end youth homelessness. The statistic that 129,000 young people reported themselves as homeless or at risk of homelessness last year is shocking. It’s a powerful call-to-action. On the basis that at Savills, we offer advice on housing and sell housing, LandAid is a charity close to our hearts, and our purpose as a business as well.

One of the things that stood out for me when doing the SleepOut was the issue of security. The SleepOut isn’t real-life rough sleeping, but it did give an essence of the lack of security young people face who are out on the street. That’s the bit you can’t replicate but that’s the bit that really resonates with people. It’s a very threatening human condition – not to have a safe place to sleep.

Savills has around 8,000 people working across UK. We cover every sector and every region, and we also try to use our skills on a pro bono basis to help charities through LandAid’s Pro Bono Service. This gives a lot of our people chance to contribute in a relatively easy way for a business of our scale and depth.

Why does the Patrons Network in particular appeal to you as a means to support LandAid to end youth homelessness?

With seniority comes responsibility. There’s a responsibility to the communities that we work in.

For those who’ve been around a while, you have a lot of contacts; the leverage you can offer from that network is of great value and use to the LandAid. Senior people have tended to have a bit more influence; by coming together you can create a powerful energy and momentum behind generating financial or human resources that help the charities that LandAid support.

Savills is a large organisation, and yet through simple introductions you have helped generate impactful connections for LandAid across the company. Can you tell us about how you champion LandAid within Savills, and what inspires those connections to be made?

It’s not an easy thing to get the right connection in the right place at the right time. We have a really good internal communications system, where we can advertise and highlight opportunities for people to contribute. And people are interested in contributing. Part of my job is to offer these opportunities to all of the business, so people can contribute to a cause that is relevant to them.

The Savills team at the LandAid SleepOut in Glasgow

We have an amazing bunch of people who want to do something. Small commitments from a lot of people en masse makes a big difference, as opposed to one or two people trying to do it all. The scale of our businesses means we can get a large number of people doing a great deal.

I like our people to be emotionally committed to what they do in their job and life. People who are tend to be the most enthusiastic, curious, and energised to be around. We have some very motivated people, who enjoy being a part of a common cause.

What is your advice for how other members of LandAid’s Patrons Network can use their connections to make equally small, but impactful, connections?

You can’t do everything all of the time. People become blind to the noise of too much of this stuff. You need to be selective in highlighting the key challenges and causes.

I Chair our UK Board, and through this I made a simple ask for volunteers to share news about what was happening at LandAid with their own teams, in their own regional offices. We ended up with teams at all but one of the SleepOut events across the UK.

The money that was raised was extraordinary. I was really humbled and pleased with how much people contributed to my own personal fundraising, as well as to all the Savills teams.

What, in the future, would you like to get out of being a member of the Patron’s Network? How would you like to see it grow, and what extra potential do you see the Network having?

The network is obviously already working. The Patrons take their responsibility on board and actually do something. There is a clear purpose for this network. People turn up, and do what’s asked. You don’t want to over engineer these things. People in the Network have busy careers, but with the right, balanced ask, they will deliver great results for LandAid.