More charities 'having problems securing funding for property costs'

A biannual survey by the Ethical Property Foundation and the Charity Commission finds that nearly 60 per cent now struggle with this, compared with 41 per cent in the last survey

The report
The report

More charities are finding it difficult to secure funding for their property costs, new figures indicate.

The Charity Property Matters Survey 2016, which is carried out every two years by the Ethical Property Foundation in partnership with the Charity Commission, found that 58 per cent of respondents said they were struggling with this issue, compared with 41 per cent in the last survey.

An analysis of the findings, called Risky Business: How Property is Shaping the Fate of Our Voluntary Sector, which will be launched at an event in London today, says 52 per cent of respondents said they did not have a property strategy.

The Ethical Property Foundation, a charity that provides advice to not-for-profit organisations on property issues, said the lack of a strategic approach to property at even a basic level was "perhaps the biggest area of concern" for regulators, funders, servicer users and staff, and property should be reinforced as a key trustee responsibility.

Slightly more than a third of respondents to the survey said they believed a lack of space was preventing the delivery of services, and just over a half said they were considering sharing space with other charities – a large leap from the 2014 survey when less than 10 per cent said this was the case.

Researchers also found that 42 per cent of organisations were having difficulty finding premises. Forty-three per cent said they had suffered "unforeseen property costs", and a third said they were worried about security of tenure.

According to the analysis, nearly half of charities canvassed said they avoided seeking professional advice because of the cost.

Antonia Swinson, chief executive of the Ethical Property Foundation, said the biggest surprise in the survey was the almost 60 per cent of charities that struggled to secure property funding, "even though it is the second most important means of delivering social mission after staff and volunteers".

Paula Sussex, chief executive of the Charity Commission, said the findings underlined the need for trustees, staff and grant-makers to understand the risks and rewards that came from property, owned or rented.

"Property queries are among the biggest group of enquiries the commission receives and, with three sets of data, this biannual survey is of growing value to the sector," she said.

The report also contains a series of top tips for charities on how to deal with property issues, such as appointing a named trustee to consider property matters, considering why a charity might own property and seeking professional advice rather than relying on guidance from well-meaning friends.

The survey attracted 425 responses from senior managers and trustees between February and August this year.

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