Before you start it will be helpful to know the benefits of community ownership and the factors that will give you success.
Having ownership of an asset in your community can help you:
1. Deliver Social & Economic Purpose, because it:
- Protects key local services / facilities that may otherwise be lost
- Provides a physical base for provision of local services
- Allows generation of income that can be re-invested locally
- Provides jobs, training and business opportunities
- Can reverse economic decline of area and attract investment
- Enables more intensive use of assets and services when control is closer to community
- Allows better stewardship of local assets because the community owns and uses them
- Allows groups to make major alterations / extend / re-furbish (usually the ability to carry out such works is limited in a lease)
2. Change Attitudes and Relationships, because it:
- Gives the group credibility with funders / other stakeholders
- Heightens the group’s profile and improves perceptions of it
- Instils a renewed sense of pride and confidence in the community
- Provides local people with a meaningful stake in the future development of the place in which they live and / or work
- Can increase participation - membership, volunteering, attendance at meetings
- Encourages, through its success, further ideas and activity – ripple effect!
3. Move towards financial self-sufficiency, because:
- The organisation can generate income from the asset
- Ownership avoids rent payments / increases
- There is incentive to invest in building to reduce running costs - e.g. energy efficiency
- It creates equity - gives the potential of selling the building and using the funding to meet other priorities
- It gives your Balance sheet strength - which you can use as security
4. Build organisational sustainability through:
- Independence / control over future of asset allowing you to make long-term plans
- Leverage, enabling you to negotiate further investment
- The development of skills and capacity locally that taking on and managing a building encourages
- Attracting new people with additional skills
- Building long-term support from community
What factors help success?
- A vision and clear set of priorities determined by the local community
- Strong ongoing presence in, and support from, the community (i.e. being truly community-based through meaningful community involvement)
- Adequate financial and business planning when acquiring assets
- An increasing focus on enterprise to develop sustainability of the asset and realise further opportunities
- Ensuring that assets are fit for purpose
- A constructive approach to asset transfer and community control of assets on the part of public bodies
- Strong working relationships with local agencies
- Capacity and leadership within the community – the skills and time to make an asset work, a history of voluntary and community action, and technical and community development support
- Effective governance - clarity of role and function and community buy-in, with adequate democratic control
- Financial sustainability - including fit-for-purpose external investment
What factors make success more difficult?
Although there are many benefits to community ownership you need also to be aware of the stumbling blocks that make success more difficult. These stumbling blocks can be:
- Failure to think through your real objectives and make a plan
- Acquiring an asset that is or becomes a liability
- Resistance to asset transfer from public bodies, protracted negotiations for acquisition, lack of aftercare and unnecessary restrictions on use
- Difficulties in recruiting volunteers, stress and burnout, and lack of support
- Problems attracting suitable finance.
There are ways you can tackle all of these stumbling blocks, and help and advice is given in the different sections of our website.