Every two years the Ethical Property Foundation runs a survey in association with the Charity Commission. This is the 'Charity Property Matters' survey. It is the only survey of its type specifically aimed at charities and asks questions about their property needs, strategy and concerns.
The purpose of the survey is to build up a picture of the property issues relevant to the charity sector for the purpose of future policy making and to shape education programmes.
The Ethical Property Foundation’s 2014 Charity Property Matters Survey found that the voluntary sector is larger than agriculture, has assets (property, cash and investments) of approximately £105 billion and employs 800,000 people. Whether in the form of offices, warehouses, training facilities, meeting rooms or charity shops, that adds up to a significant contribution to the commercial property sector.
The ‘Third’ sector operates from a different perspective than commercial businesses. Charities must and should direct their resources as far as possible to fulfilling their charitable purposes but this can mean that property matters are not top of the agenda. Smaller charities may be run by unpaid trustees with no property experience. The EPF surveys have found that many charities do not obtain adequate support and advice on property matters.
Property transactions involving charities also face an extra layer of ‘red tape’ because there are specific rules governing their dealings with land arising from charities' governing documents, charity law and the Charities Act 2011.