Charitable infrastructure is an integral part of the system that connects industries and neighbourhoods, workers and volunteers, the health of vulnerable people and well-being of communities.
Community-based charities are historically underfunded in comparison to other social services in part because of systemic biases towards vulnerable populations (e.g., poverty, mental illness, food security, etc.). This is reflected in the condition of many charity buildings, which in turn have a range of negative ramifications: limits to programs and services, excessive environmental footprint, inefficient workflows, inaccessible facilities with ingrained unsafe, old-world processes, all contributing to a diminished psycho/social wellbeing of clients.
There is an array of systemic issues that keep many charities in sub-standard facilities.
- Charity leaders are limited in their capacity and resources to improve infrastructure in order to empower service innovation and expansion.
- A lack of needed collaboration among sectors, including the charitable sector, the real estate sector, funders and donors, construction, governments, and the financial sector.
- A negative self-view by those who receive social services that they are less deserving of quality programming and environments.
- A belief from neighbours that charities buildings and services are a blight on their community, exemplified by the “not in my backyard” attitude.
- With the exception of housing, the policies from foundations and government that charity buildings are not worthwhile investments in the health of our cities and communities.
- The lack of know-how of many charity leaders regarding strategic long-term infrastructure planning that empowers the delivery of vision and mission. Often, they don’t even know what’s possible when infrastructure is connected to vision.
Our GUIDING STAR was to renew charitable infrastructure and the system in which it operates.
We envision a recognition and acceptance of charities’ facilities, a shift in attitudes towards understanding vulnerable populations, an increased capacity of charity leaders in relation to infrastructure, better policies and funding for facilities, and renewed spaces that lift the self-esteem of trauma-impacted people.
Three Phases of OUR STUDY ON
HeroWork’s experience had shown that many charity buildings are in need of repairs or upgrades. We saw the evidence across the non-profit sector. It was our mission to make this better—to improve community infrastructure so that charities can have a bigger impact.
However, before our study the evidence was anecdotal. No data existed on the state of non-profit buildings—not in the Greater Victoria area nor anywhere else in Canada. In order to serve other charities better, we wanted to deeply understand the infrastructure needs. This was why we embarked on a three phased study of physical charitable infrastructure in the Greater Victoria area.
Assessment survey of charity buildings.
Non-profit educationand feedback forum on infrastructure.
System’s approachforum on charitable infrastructure.
A GUIDE TO CHARITY
The diagram below visualizes the steps to take to have a successful journey and outcome. Although each step is separated, in reality several steps can happen at once.