How do co-operatives work with other co-ops?

Co-operatives serve their members (and, thus, community) most effectively by working together through local and national structures. This is the sixth co-operative principle, co-operation among co-operatives. In its...

Co-operatives serve their members (and, thus, community) most effectively by working together through local and national structures.

This is the sixth co-operative principle, co-operation among co-operatives. In its guidance notes, the International Co-operative Alliance says co-operatives can achieve much on a local level, but they will achieve much more if they work together. By creating this small scan, we get a snapshot of co-operation within the movement. In total, just under 2% of co-op profits are reinvested back into the movement.

So, last year, seven of the largest consumer co-ops gave over £2.2m to co-operatives. The largest giver being the Co-operative Group, with the biggest portion going to Co-operatives UK. Other beneficiaries include the International Co-operative Alliance, the Co-operative Party, the Co-operative College and Co-operative News.

Another encouraging element of these figures is that co-operatives choose to record this as a measurement and to publicly report this information each year.

Co-operative Group18000007.83%1.45%n/an/a
Midcounties Co-operative2610002.44%2.04%2.98%2.33%
Central England Co-operativen/an/an/a2.94%n/a
Scotmid Co-operative110000.19%0.22%0.64%1.67%
East of England Co-operative519390.67%1.14%1.01%2.64%
Southern Co-operative455540.91%1.14%0.06%0.06%
Lincolnshire Co-operative500000.18%0.34%0.27%0.25%
Chelmsford Star Co-operative159801.34%4.28%1.92%4.21%
Average1.94%1.51%1.40%1.86%

NOTES:

n/a: No information available. Does not necessarily denote lack of activity.

Expert views

Michelle SmithMichelle Smith, Community Lead, The Co-operative Group

“We have a Co-op Group engagement team of colleagues in the field who are working at a local level with colleagues and other interested parties, as well as networking to make sure what we are doing is part of the local community and what it needs. We engage closely with other parts of the movement, for example in developing the new membership proposal.”


malcolm brownMalcolm Brown, Head of Corporate Communications, Scotmid

Not on a day-to-day basis but we have a cross-society membership group which meets to give an overview of the activities that we are doing. If we were embarking on a new initiative, we would look at other co-ops that have done similar initiatives and would not hesitate to pick up the phone.  That is the great thing; we will speak to each other. I have had a couple of societies asking us how we progressed a couple of our initiatives but at the same time we do not have to be in each other’s pockets.


Mike-Pickering-RGB-600x360Mike Pickering, Community & Sustainability Manage, The Midcounties Co-operative

Working in partnership is at the heart of what we do and we consistently share best practice with other co-op societies through various networking events and meetings. We also work with a range of organisations, including co-operative and social enterprises, through our colleague ambassador programme, in which senior level managers from our business represent us on a range of local boards and committees, providing advice to organisations including the Westmill Wind Farm Co-operative Board.


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