LandAid chief exec Paul Morrish discusses pro bono opportunities in this week’s Q&A.

Paul Morrish

Paul Morrish

What does LandAid need from the industry now to take its pro bono programme to the next level?

We have made some really good progress in expanding the amount of people on our pro bono newsletter list; however, this is not necessarily converting into matches for the programme. Of course, this could be because the opportunities available are not suitable for those who are currently signed up, so we are still looking for as many people as possible to sign up to receive our pro bono newsletter. You can sign up here.

However, we also need those signed up to step up to the challenge, promote opportunities internally and spread the word within their contacts. So, if you’re already signed up – please do keep an eye out for the pro bono opportunities email coming on the last Wednesday of every month – there may be the perfect pro bono opportunity for you in the next one.

What can businesses do to ensure that they are supporting pro bono internally?

There are a number of simple steps that you can take to help LandAid expand the reach and depth of our pro bono programme:

  1. Ensure your company has a pro bono policy that is actively promoted internally, making it clear to staff that are permitted and able to be involved in social impact work;
  2. Let LandAid know the skills your company offers and if there are specific causes you are interested in supporting; and
  3. Embed the promotion of LandAid’s pro bono opportunities into your internal comms processes. Introduce us to your internal comms team and we can work with them to advertise relevant opportunities to your staff.

Don’t forget that pro bono has benefits for your business and your staff:

  • It will help you achieve your ESG goals, it links into EU Sustainability Goals and it meets investor demands, tenders and preferred supplier criteria; and
  • It will help you to retain and attract staff, and our feedback surveys show that staff members who participate find it really rewarding.

What can individuals in the industry do to support the LandAid pro bono programme?

1. If you’re interested in doing pro bono work through our programme, speak to your manager or internal lead about embedding the points above;

2. Sign up to our newsletter to receive opportunities;

3. Have a think about the range of your property knowledge and experience, and how this could be used to provide valuable strategic guidance to charities. You don’t have to necessarily specialise in a particular area on a day-to-day basis in order to provide useful insight. For example, an experienced investment manager in our pro bono network is currently providing a charity property renovation project with high-level guidance across matters as diverse as landlord heads of terms, high-level development costings, assessment of fair market-value rents and project timelines. This assistance has been vital in helping the charity to plan and cost its project and progress to the stage of seeking planning permission and fundraising. He is also using his industry contacts to connect the charity with deep specialists and subject-matter experts as the project progresses towards detailed implementation; and

4. Think outside the box – how can you use your personal network to help us match projects?

Are there any areas or regions that the programme needs particular support in?

We’re particularly looking for professionals able to help in and around the East Midlands, where we are getting a lot of requests. Recent requests from the region have included architectural help, structural engineering consultancy, property searches and HR support. Think you can help? Get in touch!

Are there any key projects you are struggling to match at the moment?

Yes, we’ve been working with Hackney Night Shelter to try to help it find new premises for its year-round emergency provision. It provides emergency accommodation for rough sleepers in east London, an area with a particularly high prevalence of street homelessness. Night shelters provide vital respite for rough sleepers, enabling them to take positive steps to find more permanent accommodation. In the past six months, the shelter has hosted more than 40 individuals, with the majority moving on to sustainable independent accommodation.

Before Covid, the Hackney Night Shelter had a number of different venues, but in 2020 it found a single venue in Stoke Newington to operate from safely during Covid. It is due to vacate this property in March 2022 and is looking for support at scoping a new permanent venue. The scoping/feasibility work would include the consideration of realistic target property types, search processes and possible sustainable rental levels. If you think you can help, please get in touch.