The fact is, an accurate statistical inventory of the condition of charitable sector infrastructure is practically non-existent. But we know from experience that poorly maintained buildings make it difficult for charities to deliver essential services to the most vulnerable in our communities. Also, infrastructure that is purchased or donated to charities often do not immediately serve their needs.
An example of a building that diminished slowly over time was the Mustard Seed, a charity that feeds over 7000 people every month in Victoria, BC. Before HeroWork renewed the building, it had multiple code violations, including electrical, egress, and fire. More, the building smelled poorly, had ineffective workflow, and was an eye sore, impacting the emotional and psychological well-being of the staff, volunteers, and vulnerable community members who sought their services.
The Casa Maria Emergency Housing Society is another example in Victoria. Their building was in such a diminished state they were considering giving the building away to another organization who could afford to fix it and use it for good.
An example of a diminished donated building is a 4-unit apartment complex donated to Threshold Housing Society intended for youth transitional housing. But the building had a 130-page inspection report and needed so many upgrades and repairs that Threshold wasn’t even sure they should accept the donation.
When buildings don’t function well they can impede and/or inhibit an organization’s ability to serve their constituents. Staff activities can be hindered. Workplace conditions can be unsafe. Operational costs increase as charities struggle to make ineffective buildings continue to work for them. And a general lack of aesthetics causes a sense of depression and despondency for staff and clients alike.
When charities seek to solve these problems on their own, they face many barriers. A typical route for a charity is to apply for funding from governments or major foundations and then combine these funds with public donation campaigns to raise the money needed for renovations. However, funds for renovations are typically more difficult to raise than funds that directly affect ongoing program delivery. When it comes to public donations, there is a common public perception that charities should have overhead rates of no more than 20% of their budgets. Because of this, people prefer to donate money directly to program delivery and services.
If a charity can raise the necessary funds for a renovation, they then must undertake a complex, time consuming and costly process, for which they likely have no experience. Charities typically hire a general contractor, or act as a general contractor themselves, and then coordinate the various trades and skills required to complete complicated jobs.
The reality is that renovations are among the most complex of construction projects. Anyone who has completed even a small home renovation knows that things just don’t go according to plan. Demolition takes longer than expected, and exposes new problems, such as underlying structural, plumbing or electrical problems. Needs change as the project progresses. The scope of the project is under constant pressure for revision. Every change adds hours and days, making it unlikely that the project will be completed on time or on budget. While a small organization becomes focused on its renovation, current delivery of programs and services can suffer.
What if charities could take every dollar raised for renovation and have it leveraged to get three or four dollars’ worth of renovation? What if they could rely on the knowledgeable and talented men and women in their community to bring their expertise to the project? This is the solution HeroWork offers.