Charity finance policy

Increasing number of charities fear property poses risks to their charitable mission

Today the findings of the fourth Charity Property Matters Survey are published by the Ethical Property Foundation, in partnership with the Charity Commission and Charity Finance Group

The findings show that:

  • More charities than ever before (33%) stated they rent from a commercial landlord – up from 21% in 2014. More rent than own their premises (31%).  
  • 32% of charities have had trouble in finding funding for property costs while a further 26% anticipate this will be a challenge in the future. 
  • 30% of charities say property is a barrier to delivering their charitable objectives, almost double the proportion in 2016 (17%)  
  • More than one third of charities (36%) believe that property poses a high or very high risk to their organisation  
  • 66% of charities do not have a strategic property plan (up from 52% in 2016)  
  • 41% say no-one is specifically responsible for property within their organisation 
  • 44% do not report regularly on property to trustees   

David Holdsworth, Deputy Chief Executive at the Charity Commission for England and Wales said:

The public rightly hold charities to the highest standards, and charities must respond to those expectations, including in their approach to their assets and the physical spaces they are responsible for. This research, undertaken by the Ethical Property Foundation in partnership with the Commission, makes some sobering findings in this regard. I encourage trustees whose charities that use property to read this report and learn from it in improving their governance and management systems around property. This report is also an important read for funders and others with an interest in the flourishing of charity in our society.

Antonia Swinson, CEO, Ethical Property Foundation, said: “The findings reflect the reality of our growing client caseload. As local authorities move towards more commercial rents, so we are seeing a shift towards renting from the private sector and problems finding funding to cover core costs. More than ever, our sector needs to be wised up about to manage their property most effectively. These results are a wake-up call:  property is not an extra but is a vital part of delivering social mission.”

Caron Bradshaw, Chief Executive, Charity Finance Group said: “This survey shows that property is becoming an increasingly challenging part of the mix when considering how they work effectively. Our members tell us that property continues to be an important issue for the charity sector, which is why we have collaborated with the Ethical Property Foundation in delivering this survey and publishing the report. This is an important document for the sector and is essential reading for charities, grant-making foundations, trustees and policy makers.”

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