More charities than ever across the UK have been benefiting from the industry’s superpowers, but there’s more to be done.
It surely comes as no surprise to readers of this illustrious publication that the skills, expertise, experience and networks developed through hard yards in property can work miracles in real estate. But those superpowers are increasingly coming to the rescue of outstanding charities right across the UK.
Three months ago, we relaunched our Pro Bono Programme matching professional services from within the property industry with UK not-for-profit organisations across the UK, for free.
The response has been staggering. We’ve brokered as many pro bono partnerships in four months as we did in the whole of 2019. We have more than 110 companies signed up and ready to help.
But as with any superhero, there is always more that we can do. And the impact we’re having is very real and, in many cases, transformative.
It is imperative that charities receive the same level of expertise as fee-paying clients
Take Centrepoint, for instance: a large youth homelessness charity with a portfolio of nearly 500 properties across the country, but no idea of their condition or maintenance needs. Accruent, Knight Frank and Paragon BC came to the rescue, working together through the pandemic to undertake stock condition surveys on every property.
Ed Tytherleigh, Centrepoint’s director of support and housing, described the project, which saved the charity nearly £200,000, as “an absolute game changer”.
The survey findings enable the charity to plan and make targeted investments in its supported housing stock, transforming the experiences of vulnerable young people and improving the quality of care provided.
The range of support brokered is growing all the time. In South Tyneside, we helped convert a double-decker bus into a mobile foodbank; in Liverpool, we brokered a property search for a local children’s charity; and in London, we’ve been helping broker tech support and computer hardware for homelessness charities.
But the breadth of professional skills within our industry is vast and extends way beyond property expertise. So we’re now brokering HR, marketing, digital and legal expertise to charities where they can deliver impact and save precious funds.
In Northern Ireland, Kate Honey from Portland Communications supported local homelessness charity Simon Community Northern Ireland to put together its first social media strategy. Thanks to Honey, the charity has increased its social media traffic by 600%.
We’ve brokered advice on employment matters, on strategic planning and on partnership working. And we’ve helped broker precious legal advice for grant-making, education and domestic violence charities across the UK.
The right level of service
For pro bono to achieve the greatest social impact, both for those delivering it and those receiving it, it is imperative that charities receive the same level of expertise and service as fee-paying clients.
Some charities have in the past had poor experiences of pro bono (although not through LandAid). This has sometimes left charities with a bitter taste, and reluctant to ask for help again.
But our programme has exceeded expectations across the board. In east London recently, Webb Yates Engineers provided a structural survey to male suicide prevention charity, James’ Place, on its prospective new premises.
The charity was delighted with the insight provided, and one of its trustees, Harry Wentworth-Stanley, wrote to praise the quality of work and the fact that “the excellent team of surveyors at Webb Yates treated us as fee-paying clients”. This is the level of service charities need and deserve.
But despite some great progress over the past quarter expanding the potential capacity and coverage of our pro bono network, we still need to do more to turbocharge interest into action. We need the industry to deliver on its pro bono promises.
Mailing list sign-ups aren’t enough – we need to match actual projects, put your superpowers to work and deliver lasting social impact. The potential is huge – we need you, your companies and our industry to help realise that potential.
LandAid would like to thank the four founding partners of the programme: Newcore Capital, which got the ball rolling in 2019 with its initial Pro Bono Challenge, CBRE, JLL and Savills. Their generous financial support as well as their internal commitment to promoting opportunities will allow us to sustain and grow the programme over the next three years. Nuveen has also agreed to support the programme this year as a campaign partner, and so our thanks go to them, too.
Paul Morrish is chief executive of LandAid