Civil society organisations control substantial assets with an estimated value of £292.5bn. This figure largely consists of fixed assets such as property and investments. It also includes some cash deposits, but excludes the assets of financial services industries (e.g. building societies, credit unions, and friendly societies and mutual insurers), which is mostly comprised of customer deposits.
The total assets given may be an underestimate of the true value because civil society organisations are often the custodians of significant historic or inalienable assets such as churches, sites of historical or cultural value, or areas of natural beauty.
Civil society’s main tangible assets take the form of buildings, land or equipment. For instance, many community centres, local halls and meeting places, places of worship, and facilities for play and sports are owned by civil society organisations, as is much of the UK’s social housing.
Civil society organisations variously use their assets to provide essential space or resources to enable the delivery of their own services, to offer space for wider community use and benefit, and, importantly, to generate income – as in the case of foundations funded through returns on an invested endowment.