Future Co-ops 2015: Can do co-ops

Jo White welcoming delegates to the Future Co-ops 2015 conference in Church Stretton

Individuals and communities across the UK are running co-op-friendly projects that could serve as an inspiration for the movement. This year’s Future Co-operatives conference aimed to showcase some of these innovative projects and the people who led them. Themed around “Can do co-ops”, it brought together co-operators from different sectors to discuss how the movement […]


Fairtrade Fortnight 2015

Members of Kuapa Kokoo Co-operative, Ghana, and Dorthy Chikwiti, a Satemwa Tea Estate worker in Malawi

  This year Fairtrade celebrated its 20th anniversary – and Fairtrade Fortnight 2015 (23 February – 8 March) aims to make people even more aware of what Fairtrade is and how buying Fairtrade makes a difference. 78% of the UK public recognise the Fairtrade mark, but, according to the organisation, “over half still don’t actively […]


Volunteering index: co-operatives dedicating time to communities


During 2013, the top co-operatives reported close to 290,000 volunteer hours from their staff. But this will still not be the full picture of the sector, since only seven out of 20 consumer-facing co-ops have reported the figure. Volunteering is a part of British society, according to the government’s Community Life Survey that found 74% […]


Introduction: The importance of co-operatives investing in communities


The importance of co-operatives investing in their communities has long been recognised. The report of the Co-operative Commission in 2001 noted the virtuous circle theory of the attainment of social goals providing a competitive advantage, leading to commercial success which then reinforces the ability to meet the social goals. The report also notes that for […]


How do we measure the co-operative difference?


Corporate social responsibility (CSR) includes a range of criteria to determine an organisation’s ethical status, and has been adopted by many co-ops. But what should they measure to show their unique co-operative status? Helen Barber, head of co-operative advice at Co-operatives UK, says the co-operative difference is “fundamentally different” from CSR. “Co-operatives have the interests […]


Inside the Impact Index

The Community Impact Index is based on research into the investment in communities from the largest consumer-facing co-operatives in the UK, as well as the largest non-co-op retailers. Embodying co-operative principles within the research, the index looks at how the sector shows ‘concern for the community’ and ‘co-operation among co-operatives’. In order to make meaningful comparisons […]


Regional Communities at The Midcounties Co-operative: Walsall Case Study

Picture © Daniel Graves Photography 2014.

In 2014, The Midcounties Co-operative reviewed its approach to community giving, to make it more region-focused. The organisation has recently launched energy and childcare businesses and, as it diversified, felt it was important to take its community work back to its roots by providing both financial and volunteering support on a local level. So this […]


Measuring the impact of co-op grocers across the US


In the United States, a national purchasing co-op that represents over 140 food co-ops has measured the impact of its members. In 2012, the National Co-op Grocers discovered that for every dollar spent in store, $0.38 was reinvested in the local economy –compared to $0.24 at rival grocers. Part of this difference is through the […]


How do UK supermarkets do corporate social responsibility?

A CSR programme from Morrisons saw it donate £18m worth of gardening equipment to schools (Image: Chris Warham / Shutterstock.com)

In the UK, many high street supermarkets such as Tesco and Morrisons have their own ‘community champions’, who work with communities in local areas. Some have also set up in-store collection points for donations to local food banks (Tesco) and donate surplus food to charities (Sainsbury’s, Asda and Aldi) or convert it into energy through […]