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research report

Community organisations controlling assets

A better understanding

June 2011

Mike Aiken, Marilyn Taylor, Rebecca Moran, Ben Cairns


What kinds of community organisations own or manage assets such as land and buildings? What are the benefits they offer and the challenges they face? IVAR research, commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and published in 2011, explored these questions.   The research revealed the diversity in the field. Survey results revealed that small organisations run solely by volunteers form a large constituency while there are some very large organisations employing over 150 staff. A third of organisations surveyed were young organisations, less than 15 years old, but just over 12% had been in existence for more than 100 years. Case studies conducted in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales suggested that these organisations could help increase confidence and pride in an area as well as improving access to services and activities.   Three overlapping bands of asset owning and managing organisations with different characteristics were identified. Stewards were smaller volunteer run groups which usually managed a single building. Community developers were medium sized organisations engaging in partnership work to deliver services. Entrepreneurs were larger social enterprise organisations often running several assets using a commercial model.   Over the last ten years there has been an increasing policy interest in this field although the history of community ownership and management of assets goes back much further. The report argues that if the field is to continue to thrive the challenges they face need to be addressed. These include appropriate assets, the skills and time to make an asset work and adequate financial and business planning.



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