Community investment index: giving back to neighbourhoods

Consumer co-operatives give 6.9% of profits back to communities, while its nearest retail rivals provide 2.4%. The Community Impact Index, which covers the 2013 financial year, lists the...

Consumer co-operatives give 6.9% of profits back to communities, while its nearest retail rivals provide 2.4%.

The Community Impact Index, which covers the 2013 financial year, lists the top nine retail co-operatives by turnover that gave over £20m to communities. The figure, which represents 6.9% of pre-tax/pre-dividend profits, looks at all areas of giving to communities, such as donations from customers/staff and investments from the co-operative itself.

Among the movement’s largest givers are: Midcounties Co-operative (17.6%); Scotmid Co-operative (11.8%); Chelmsford Star (8.7%); and Central England (8.7%).

Through its community fund, Midcounties donated over £300,000 to 196 grassroots organisations in grants worth between £5,000–£10,000. The society also raised £273,000 for its charity of the year – on one weekend it raised £87,000 through a ‘Give at the Till’ campaign.

On the list of the retail sector’s supermarket rivals, Sainsbury’s was one of the biggest community givers through funds of £40m, representing 4.5% of profits. Tesco (3.4%), M&S (2.4%), Asda (2.1%), Morrisons (1.5%) and Aldi (0.3%) all reported some form of community investment in their 2013 annual reports.

During the year, the Co-operative Group gave back £15.7m to communities, despite reporting a £2.5bn loss. This lack of profit makes it hard to give a true benchmark on how comparable the Group is to other co-operatives. However, by looking at the table as a percentage of turnover, its level is at 0.15%, in line with the leaders of the table (Midcounties and Scotmid).

The Index also looks at a number of other consumer-facing co-operatives, which include the housing and healthcare sectors. One of the largest performers was Greenwich Leisure, which invested £807,000 in the community.

The majority of investments came through its Sport Foundation, a “talent development scheme” for young sports people. It gave over £500,000 to 1,300 athletes during the year through training and bursaries. It also delivered a number of community projects for people who have not engaged in sport or physical activity.

In breaking down the total investments into communities, the analysed annual reports provided separate figures to show where those monies went. At least £20m was given directly back to communities through schemes such as community dividends or staff/member/customer fundraising.

When looking at volunteering, the index found only seven co-ops reported those figures. In studying the 290,000 hours given by co-operative staff, the data shows that each staff member gives more than 90 minutes on average to community projects.

In an attempt to measure the co-operative difference, the Co-operative Support Index discovered that more than £800,000 was reinvested in the co-operative movement by some of the top co-ops.

Organisation nameTurnover last reported yearTotal reported community investment UKTotal as % of pre tax and dividend profits (2013)(2012)
The largest UK consumer co-operatives
Midcounties Co-operative£1,167,148,000£1,797,30517.59%15.10%
Scotmid Co-operative£431,414,000£533,00011.80%27.40%
Chelmsford Star Co-operative£70,452,988£146,9488.70%15.60%
Central Englandb£717,845,000£837,5007.60%5
Lincolnshire Co-operative£245,839,000£1,007,6055.40%5.20%
Southern Co-operative£326,716,000£473,5644.40%5.70%
East of England Co-operative£341,897,000£252,9053.80%3.20%
Channel Islands Co-operative£160,404,000£217,2862.60%2.30%
(The Co-operative Group)£10,534,000,000£15,700,000
The largest other UK co-operatives
Greenwich Leisure£133,500,000£3,985,96820.20%25.10%
RCT Homes£44,268,000£2,255,0004.70%0.50%
John Lewis (including Waitrose)£9,027,800,000£329,100,0004.30%3.10%
Benenden Health£90,981,000£7,845,0001.20%0.40%
BronAfon Community Housing£36,769,000£4,149,0000.20%n/a
Total largest other UK co-operatives£9,726,618,000£16,680,7636.60%3.30%
Total all co-operatives£13,188,333,988£37,646,8766.70%3.80%
The largest UK supermarket competitors
Total largest UK retailers£126,509,752,605£154,202,9882.40%3.70%

impact-index1Read more … Concern for the community: find out how co-operatives perform in the Community Impact Index:

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