Hastings Pier Charity

Hastings Pier Charity
The communication skills the Community Shares Company brought to the task were underpinned by fresh understanding of what we were trying to achieve and what our vision would be, combined with an strong empathy for our cause. We would recommend them for any community enterprise looking to raise significant investment capital through community shares.
Hastings Pier Charity

We worked with Hastings Pier Charity on their share issue, which raised £590,000 in six months to finish the Pier renovation.

The Pier share issue was revolutionary because it was the first time a registered charity in the UK has issued share capital.

Charities tend to be companies limited by guarantee, which means they can’t have equity. That restricts their capital to either donations or debt. Neither were appropriate here because donations wouldn’t get enough money in (research shows people invest significantly more in shares than they give as donations) and debt was too risky and too expensive for a fledgling business.

The Charity Commissioners were nervous but recognised that a charity paying a very low level of interest to supporters if it could afford to was much better than paying a bank a much higher rate of interest come rain or shine.

It also marked a departure for piers generally, which have tended to be owned unhappily in both the private and public sectors. Hastings is the first to be community-owned, but won’t be the last.

We wrote the offer document that underpinned the marketing and devised the theme for the campaign. We had to ensure that people understood that despite all the good news about the £13M in grants, this last £500,000 was just as critical and that the Pier stood as a symbol for the wider regeneration of the town.

The second vital aspect was to engage a wider community of users as opposed to well-wishers. Without revenue-generating businesses on top of the pier, the charity will be in danger of being yet another buy flagyl online heritage project that costs millions but slowly rusts away because not enough people care enough about it to make use of it.

Over 3,000 people invested in the Pier share issue, with two thirds of them local to Hastings, drawn from all incomes and walks of life. This was genuine community investment and the sheer number of investors demonstrates the desire people have not just to see the Pier re-opened but to take responsibility themselves for that rejuvenation.

The Project

  • Hastings Pier closed in 2004 and burnt down in 2010. The Charity had secured over £13M of lottery funding to enable the structure to be renovated but was short of the money to finish the build.
  • It is essential that there are attractions on the Pier that earned enough money to cover ongoing maintenance. That meant working capital to develop the business but it was critical that this came from people who were prepared to be patient and allow the Pier time to develop its business.
  • They also needed to energise the local community into supporting their Pier and knit people into the business. It was vital that this wasn’t about the lottery repairing the Pier in honour of its glorious heritage, but the community coming together to get their Pier developed as a symbol of a better future.

What We Did

  • We wrote the offer document that sold the investment and designed the theme which sought to marry the ambitious plans for the future with the Pier’s history.
  • We advised the Charity on a marketing campaign to promote the share offer.

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