There’s benefit in being a not-for-profit, Aythan Lewes

IN professional consultancy in construction, profit often takes precedence over purpose.

However, at EALA Impacts community interest company (CIC), we have taken a different approach: a not-for-profit model that allows us to prioritise creating a positive impact.

I joined EALA Impacts last year – as a chartered building surveyor – drawn to our founder, conservation architect Joanne McClelland’s vision in establishing EALA as a CIC the previous year. 

As a company limited by guarantee, EALA can never be bought or sold, ensuring that our mission remains our top priority since we can never be diverted to growing its financial value.

By adopting a not-for-profit approach, we gained access to more favourable start-up funding options, which would have been unattainable had we been a for-profit practice.

Meanwhile, our CIC status requires an asset lock, meaning that the organisation’s resources are not reduced by the issuing of dividends. Our CIC status requires us to upload our ‘social impact’, alongside our ‘financials’ to Companies house. Combined with us being a ‘climate-minded’ practice – working only on existing buildings – it means we have a ‘triple bottom line’ approach: people, planet and prosperity.

By choosing this path, we focus our commitment on a purpose-driven approach, placing the needs of our clients and communities above personal gain.

As a chartered building surveyor, my skills compliment Joanne’s as a conservation architect. Together, we offer a range of essential services – including architectural design work, survey reports, maintenance plans and feasibility studies. By combining our skills and knowledge, we provide our clients with comprehensive advice and support, ensuring their projects are built on solid foundations. Over the past 18 months, we’ve added two colleagues.

One of the advantages of our not-for-profit model is the ability to amplify our impact within the communities we serve.

The surplus we generate, akin to profit in traditional organisations, enables us to offer our services at reduced costs where the impact deserves it, making professional advice accessible to marginalised individuals and groups. 

Our accessibility allows us to work with those in areas of deprivation, community organisations and charities, applying our expertise to where it is most needed.

Moreover, our not-for-profit status empowers us to explore innovative services that may not be commercially viable under a traditional business model.

We undertake projects such as ‘carbon benefit analyses’ and ‘pre-demolition audits’, providing valuable insights that contribute to sustainability and holistic decision-making.

Additionally, our flexibility enables us to engage with clients at the early stages of their projects, even when funding is limited. This early involvement allows us to guide communities towards making well-informed decisions, ensuring positive outcomes.

While there are other exceptional organisations in our industry, we currently stand apart by embracing a not-for-profit model that allows us to prioritise creating a positive impact.

Our dedication to serving clients and communities, coupled with our professional expertise in architecture and building surveying, underpins our work.

Being a not-for-profit consultancy and demonstrating the benefits to ourselves and our community we strive to shape a future where purpose-driven practices serve as catalysts for transformative change.

We look forward to more competitors with this structure.

Aythan Lewes is a chartered surveyor at EALA Impacts.

Pictured: From the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Glasgow; aka Cop26, Picture credit: Place Design Scotland

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