Social Purpose Real Estate: More than Just Profit

Churches and other religious organizations are sitting on some of the most coveted social purpose real estate in the Bay Area. There’s no question that church real estate is valuable and likely the most valuable asset of a religious organization. As costs rise and congregations dwindle, there is a push toward maximizing the impact of that asset.

However, doing so doesn’t always mean selling the property outright. Churches in saturated real estate markets all over the world are finding creative ways to leverage their assets through social purpose real estate. Church buildings can help community-benefit real estate firms, all while maintaining and furthering their congregation’s mission. Need inspiration? Here’s a look at successful examples and how DCG Strategies is uniquely equipped to help churches manage their real estate needs.

As a nonprofit organization whose building serves the community, your church home probably already qualifies as social purpose real estate. But the term can also be used to describe an organization that uses its property to build affordable housing units for the community, or rents space to a like-minded community benefit organization at a lower-than-market rate. There are many ways to maximize your church’s real estate when it comes to serving your neighborhood. Consider your community’s most pressing needs, as well as your congregation’s interests, as a starting point to decide whether you’ll focus on things like immigrant support, youth fellowship, the arts community, and more.

Many California churches are interested in developing affordable housing on their property, thanks in part to the “Yes in God’s Backyard” campaign that started in San Diego. Legislators recently submitted an unusual bill that would make it easier to do so. Other congregations are focusing on transitional housing for people experiencing homelessness.

When it comes to housing development on surplus church real estate, there are plenty of options. For example, a historic church that needs to fund a large renovation or raise money to support its general upkeep. The congregation would like to preserve its beautiful sanctuary, but doesn’t mind if part of a surplus property is sold to a developer. The church might be able to find a for-profit company that can build mixed-income housing on the site — that way, the church raises money for its cause while also providing their community with new affordable housing units.

Sometimes a changing congregation needs to downsize to a different building and sell the old one altogether. In these mission-first approaches to real estate, churches should bring excited faith to that process. Consider prioritizing buyers that would bring positive change to the community, such as nonprofits or other faith entities.

Because it’s been DCG Strategies’ mission from the beginning to serve the organizations that serve our community, we understand that faith-based organizations aren’t motivated solely by financial gain. We’ve been honored to work with many faith communities over the years, and we recognize the extensive positive impact that mission-first real estate decisions can have on our communities. Our process involves listening to church leadership, advocating for the long-term financial wellbeing of your organization, and helping you make the best of your real estate assets to achieve your goals.

Unlike most real estate organizations, DCG Strategies is a certified benefit corporation. This signifies that we’re committed to a higher standard of social and environmental impact and accountability. Our team is proud to use our commercial real estate expertise to help build value within our community. Schedule a consultation and let’s see what we can achieve together!