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February Third Sector Cafe on buildings

  • 2 Fly Studio Harlnd works, 74 John street Sheffield S2 4QU (map)
15th February - Third Sector Cafe Event

For our second cafe of 2018 we welcome our award-winning speaker Jon Johnson, founder of a new social enterprise called Reach Homes, to tell us about his innovative project to bring modern, high quality and low cost housing within the reach of more people who are in need of a home.

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This cafe will look at ideas for non profits "Building resilience": looking at ways to use buildings to allow you to achieve more and diversify your income. 

Have you ever considered that involvement in property might be one way you could diversify your non-profit’s income? We’re going to be exploring this topic in the Third Sector Café this month by talking to some local organisations with experience.

  • SOAR raised funding to build the impressive SOAR works
  • The Burton Street Foundation took on a long lease (and maintenance responsibility) for a dilapidated former school which is now an impressive base at the core of their work
  • REACH homes are a social enterprise who have developed an innovative container home which offers a low cost, high quality housing solution
  • The tenants of Portland Works formed a co-operative to buy the building when it was threatened with development into flats by the previous owner

None of these organisations went into property with a primary aim of generating surplus income.

However, once in property, some do find opportunities for a double benefit: buildings can make it easier to achieve social impact AND they can contribute financially. This could look like:

  • reducing the cost of delivering services - eg reduce or waive room or pitch rental
  • contribute to core costs – eg the cost of a centre manager, premises, marketing or admin costs
  • or, with the right company structure, generate a surplus for re-investment in the non-profit’s work.

Private developers have made (and, occasionally, lost ;)) significant profit through their involvement with buildings in the city. As the world of public sector commissioning gets ever harder to survive in, and charitable grants become ever more competitive, is it worth reviewing whether involvement with buildings could be part of a strategy to diversify your income and play a part in sustaining some of your non-profit’s activities?


Our award-winning speaker this month is Jon Johnson of Reach Homes. Jon is passionate about the opportunity for others to get involved in providing low cost high quality homes for people in Sheffield (and beyond) and has developed a container home which costs around £35k to build and next to nothing to heat and run. From his proto-type home hosted by the South Yorkshire Energy Centre at Heeley City Farm, he is currently searching for partners with land, finance and planning permission to host his first developments. He is in discussion SYHA and Manor and Castle Development Trust among others. He is also running a conference in Sheffield to discuss innovative responses to the housing crisis – tickets available here.

Jon will be telling us about his innovative project and how his social enterprise aims to use their buildings to make a huge social impact – and achieve financial sustainability.