THE Co-operative Group and Oxford, Swindon & Gloucester Co-op both feature prominently in the Business in the Community PerCent Standard league tables for 2003.
A voluntary initiative, PerCent Standard aims to measure and encourage corporate community donations ? which can be made up of staff and management time as well as cash ? and urges companies to donate at least one per cent of their profits for social investment purposes.
OSG, Britain's third biggest independent retail co-op, is the only society to make the top ten givers in percentage terms, while the Co-op Group, including Co-op Bank and CIS, are rated fourth in the UK Givers' Table in absolute terms with donations amounting to £ 9,534,805.
OSG's support for community initiatives amounted to £ 367,793 over the year ? 8.07 per cent of their profits ? and secured the society ninth place in the percentage table.
In OSG's case, the figure includes cash support funding; donations of goods such as products from Co-op stores and staff time and expertise given to support community initiatives.
Chief Executive Bob Burlton commented: "This is a significant achievement for a regional society. As a successful and forward thinking co-operative businesses, one of the ways we demonstrate our ethics and values is by building strong links with the communities we serve.
"What this shows is that when you support your local Co-op store, your community will benefit about eight times as much, on average, as supporting a major national retailer."
According to the statistics published by Business in the Community, Tesco and Sainsbury's each donated 1.10 per cent of their profits to community causes and initiatives and, in total, the entire Co-op Movement gave more than either of the supermarket giants.
Behind OSG in the percentage table were CIS (six per cent), Co-operative Group (4.8 per cent) and the Co-operative Bank (2.7 per cent). However the total for the Co-operative Group's family of businesses saw the Group finish in fourth place in the UK Givers' table in absolute terms.
The survey's conclusions were welcomed by Stephen Youd-Thomas, Head of Co-operative Strategy at the Co-operative Group.
He told the News: "This is important recognition of the Group's support for the communities in which it trades. The attainment of the PerCent Club Standard acknowledges the substantial contribution the Group has made and, hopefully, will encourage others to be more community-minded."
The PerCent Club initiative has won the support of Chancellor Gordon Brown, lead patron of Mutuo, who described the scheme as an "excellent example of how socially responsible companies can improve the communities in which they operate and help to create a good economy and a good society."
Business in the Community says that corporate community investments are up 30 per cent overall in cash terms compared to 2002 with gifts in kind rising by almost 160 per cent and the time spent on community programmes, including management costs, increasing by over 35 per cent.