Corporate partnerships: CBRE link brings more than just cash to Shelter

The property company wants to leave a legacy that will last beyond the life of the partnership

The partnership between the property company CBRE and the housing and homelessness charity Shelter has done more than just raise almost £1m for the charity over the past two-and-a-half years.

The company has encouraged its employees to carry out pro-bono work for the charity as part of the partnership, which has yielded results that include significant sums saved for the charity in a lease negotiation and a new top-performing Shelter store.

The partnership began in February 2015 and has raised more than £989,000 of its £1m target. It also won the Property and Construction category at this year's Third Sector Business Charity Awards.

Fundraising highlights have included the World's Biggest Property Bike Ride, staged by the partnership for the past three years, which raised £40,000 this year, and Row50, which invites CBRE teams from across the UK to connect remotely to race 50km on rowing machines.

CBRE staff have also worked as part of teams in Shelter shops, an initiative that has resulted in individual stores taking up to four times their average weekly profits in a single day.

The company is keen to leave a legacy that will last beyond the life of the partnership and has encouraged all its UK-based employees - a workforce that has grown from 2,500 to 12,500 during the partnership after a merger with the facilities management company Global Workplace Solutions - to carry out at least eight hours of pro-bono work for the charity each year.

Among the principal benefits for the charity of this partnership came after CBRE staff analysed the location of Shelter's shops and made recommendations for where new branches should be opened. This exercise led to a new shop being opened in Hampstead Heath, north-west London, which swiftly became one of the charity's top three stores in terms of revenue generation.

The joint venture is the first UK-wide partnership CBRE has entered into, and the firm estimates that Shelter stands to benefit from about £3.7m in projected savings and increased income over the next five years as a result of the affiliation, in addition to the £1m of fundraised income.

"The partnership is a powerful example of how the property sector can make a huge difference to those who cannot access safe and secure housing," says Lucy Aldrich-Smith, corporate responsibility manager at CBRE UK.

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