15 November 2016 | Marino Donati
More than half of charities have experienced difficulty funding property costs and 45 per cent believe property is the biggest threat to their sustainability, according to research.
A report by property advice charity the Ethical Property Foundation, in partnership with the Charity Commission, has outlined the property risks confronting charities in the England and Wales.
A survey of 425 chief executives and senior managers in voluntary organisations outlined in the report, Risky Business: how property is shaping the fate of our voluntary sector, found that 58 per cent experienced difficulty obtaining funding for property costs, compared to 41 per cent in 2014.
Property was the biggest threat to a charity's sustainability, according to 45 per cent of respondents. Just over half (52 per cent) did not have a property strategy, while 43 per cent said they had had unforeseen property costs.
The survey also revealed that 83 per cent of respondents believed they had day to day expertise in managing their premises, and that almost half (43.5%) had avoided seeking professional advice in the last three years, due to costs.
Only a quarter felt that their local authorities understood the property challenges that charities faced, while almost a third (32 per cent) worried about the security of their tenure.
Antonia Swinson, chief executive of the Ethical Property Foundation, said that the figures showed a disconnect between organisations' belief that they had day to day property management skills and the fact that more than half lacked a property strategy.
"But the biggest surprise is that so many, close to 60% cannot get property funding, even though it is the second most important means of delivering social mission after staff and volunteers," said Swinson.
Charity Commission chief executive Paula Sussex said that the findings underlined the need for trustees and staff, as well as grant making bodies, to understand the risks as well as the rewards which come from property, whether owned or rented.
"Property queries are among the biggest group of enquiries the commission receives and with three sets of data, this bi-annual survey is of growing value to the sector,'' she said.
The findings will form the basis of the forthcoming National Programme of Property Education 2017 - 2019, which will include online property education, workshops and drop in property advice clinics.
The Ethical Property Foundation is a registered charity launched in 2004 to provide property advice to not-for-profit organisations across England & Wales.