10 Proven Strategies for Charities to Save Thousands on Real Estate This Year

By Mia Brown
Charity • Thoughts
23rd March 24

#1 Right-Size

It’s a simple equation: LESS SPACE = LOWER COSTS.

This was the number one option chosen by TSP’s clients last year. Your next break option or lease expiry is the ideal time to rethink your premises strategy. Are you truly set up for hybrid working?

Most people aren’t.

It’s clear now that we’re not going back to the workplace of 2019. So, you’re best adapting to hybrid and right-sizing your office today – rather than losing money on unused space ‘just in case’. A smaller office means lower running costs too, so you’re winning all-round.

These days, there are hundreds of spaces that cater to downsizers, so it’s easier than ever to find a great office that’s the perfect size for you.

#2 Go Flexible

Flex offices of the past were rabbit warrens of white cubes and blue carpets.

Fortunately, things have moved on since the Noughties. Today’s flexible offices are collaborative and inspiring – not drab and soulless. They’re places where you can rent a private office and access shared meeting rooms, cafes, and other communal spaces. They’re a perfect solution to the hybrid working dilemma.

But beware of going to a WeWork or other ‘private sector’ office.

The problem is the all-inclusive packages include full Business Rates payments that can’t be removed: making it very expensive for your charity.

It’s better to enlist a charity and non-profit specialist like Ethical Property Company or Canopi.

→ Contact us for our live listings of flex workspaces for charities

#3 Rewrite Your Lease

You can get a better deal just by staying in your rented property.

This is how TSP began life back in the Great Financial Crisis. We would renegotiate leases and make huge savings for our clients. And we still do it today!

In fact, we’re getting phenomenal deals for clients this year. Landlords are nervous about reletting empty offices and will agree to eyebrow-raising terms.

Some examples:

  • Get a rent-free period by extending your lease. Market rates are 1.5 – 2 months of rent-free for every year you commit to
  • Get the landlord to upgrade your space for free
  • Downsize your demise or move to another space in the same building
  • I’ve also negotiated new flexible ‘any time’ break options for uncertain clients who just need some breathing space
  • Or agree a rent reduction for staying put

Think about what works for you: then ask for it.

#4 Make Money from Your Office

If you have spare space in your building, why not put it to work?

Hundreds of downsizers (see #1) are looking for shared offices. They would love to pay rent to your charity, not a greedy landlord. I’ve also seen clients succeed by renting single desk spaces to smaller charities. This takes a little more work but creates an income fast.

Or, if your building is historic and interesting, could it be a good venue for events, weddings, offsite meetings, etc?

Be creative and tap into your local market and network.

Follow TSP’s LinkedIn page where we list low-cost charity buildings. Send us yours and we’ll advertise it for free!

#5 Reduce Your Bills

An energy broker will help you decide if it’s wise to fix your prices now. Sustainable and renewable energy does cost more. Try to use it if you can.

Other than changing supplier, doing the basics right is the best way to make savings. Don’t heat empty spaces. Don’t leave lights on and electronics running 24/7.

The problem is these things get overlooked and considered ‘not important’. So, how about appointing someone as your sustainability supervisor? Then task them with cutting your spend. Give them motivational goals and help them by buying inexpensive monitoring devices to track live consumption.

Share results with your people and show them that you’re on the path to net zero.  And not a laminated passive-aggressive ‘TURN THE LIGHTS OUT’ note in sight!

#6 Upgrade & Save

It sounds counter-intuitive but refurbishing your building will save you money.

You’ll avoid the shock of unexpected and expensive repair bills. You’ll adapt to hybrid working while freeing-up space that makes money (see #4). Plus, energy efficient upgrades kill your electricity bills.

Refurbishment costs increase every year – so if you’re thinking of upgrading, the sooner the better. You’ll enjoy the benefits now AND make inflation-busting savings.

#7 Get Free Money

AKA a grant.

It can take years of dedication and work. But getting a grant to improve your building is sometimes the only choice for smaller charities. Lots of people ask me where to start.

Registering for the Charity Excellence Framework’s outstanding ‘Free Funding Finder’ is the place (and it’s free). It’s the best list of active funding opportunities I have seen.

If your project will capture peoples’ imaginations or even media attention, then a GoFundMe appeal is also an option.

#8 Rip Up Your Lease

Sounds unbelievable, but sometimes it’s possible to get out of your lease.

A lease surrender means the landlord lets you walk away in return for a single payment, or sometimes even for free. You never know what an owner’s plans are; they might be happy to get the building back to redevelop as flats. It’s happened before and will happen again.

Alternatively, your landlord might help advertise the space and find a new long-term tenant.

You’ll never know unless you ask!

#9 Cut Your Dilapidations Bill

A dilaps bill is an inevitable cost of the right-sizing process.

But the amount you pay is NOT a foregone conclusion. You can often do the repairs for less money, but I always recommend cash-settling because dilapidations payments do not always attract VAT. Besides, landlord claims can be over-inflated. Or they might want to refurbish or redevelop the property, and when they do, dilaps bills get crushed!

We typically save 50%-60% on the quoted rate which adds up to thousands.

#10 Get Free Expert Advice

Inspired by this list?

I hope so. If it’s sparked some ideas but you need a little more help – let’s make a plan together.

Every month I commit to 5 free 30min calls with charities.

By clicking below you’ll land on a booking page which shows available slots in the next 2 weeks. Choose the best time for you, and I’ll send you a Teams link.

Jonathan Vanstone-Walker • Chartered Surveyor, Managing Director

→ Book Your FREE 30-Min Consultation Here

Not ready to chat?

Send me an email, or connect with me on LinkedIn








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