Local Community Fund team

April Armstrong, Community Giving Manager, probably has one of the best job titles in Co-op. Here she tells us about how the Local Community Fund team guides our local causes through the journey from being chosen to receiving the money, and beyond.

We talk about £20m like it’s £20 sometimes. That’s an amazing amount of money we’ve given through our Local Community Fund, it’s not just a number. It touches so many people’s lives and it’s why November’s Celebration day was a proud day for everyone – and an extra special moment for our team.

That’s because we work behind the scenes on the Local Community Fund. On what some people might call the ‘process’ bit – making sure the fund runs like clockwork all-year round.

One Co-op

But we don’t do this on our own. So many teams work together across the organisation to keep everything going – it’s probably one of the most co-operative things we’re doing in Co-op right now.

Checking causes are eligible

It’s so important we make sure our members’ money is spent in the right way so a strict checking process is needed.

First check: We work with the Membership Contact Centre team – a mini army of people who do the first check on a project to make sure it meets our criteria. Does it benefit the community or is it an individual who wants to save rhinos in Africa? That’s a lovely conservation project but it wouldn’t be eligible for our fund. 

Stores/funeral homes are part of the process too: Without colleagues in stores and funeral homes we wouldn’t be able to put the ‘local’ in Local Community Fund. It’s their local knowledge that makes this fund unique. These aren’t decisions made in a central place – they’re made by the people who know what their community needs.

Final check: The Charities Aid Foundation (an organisation that helps UK and international charities and their donors) do one last check to make sure the cause is eligible. They’re also responsible for paying the money to our local causes.

Local Community Fund team infographic

Keeping in touch with local causes

Our local causes get so much more than money from us. They have the support of our colleagues in stores and funeral homes, as well as our Co-op Engagement Advisors. And then there’s over 200 Member Pioneers whose role it is to bring colleagues, local causes and members together.

Even though all that’s going on, our team continue to work in the background building relationships with our local causes. We contact them every month and show them how to make the most of the fund – like going into stores and talking to our members, or how to do their own promotion in their communities.

We’ve now extended the funding period to 11 months which means we’ve got loads more time to build a relationship with them. The first payment is due out at the end of this month.

Co-op circle

That’s the Co-op circle that Steve Murrells talked about. If a cause tells their supporters about the fund, there’s a great chance of them becoming members and starting to buy Co-op products and services. The more people buy, the more we can give back, and the more we can make a difference in communities.

How colleagues can help us

If colleagues just did three things it would help our Local Community Fund reach another level:

  1. Contribute to the 1% by buying Co-op brand products and services – it’s even better now double discount is back and we’ve cut prices in store.
  2. Go online and choose your local cause
  3. Tell other members to shop Co-op and choose a cause.

April Armstrong
Community Giving Manager

Join the conversation! 21 Comments

  1. April
    Thanks so much for the update, great to hear about the great work you guys do.
    I’m proud to be a Member Pioneer & I wonder if it would be possible to be cc’d in your emails to causes? I know it might mean more work for you guys, but if poss’, I think it would be helpful to know what messages have gone out to our causes & when. Plus, by being included in the conversation, it gives our subsequant conversations with causes even more credibility. Joined up thinking eh?
    Thanks for everything. Gerry.

    Reply
    • Hi Gerry, thanks for the suggestion about giving Member Pioneers more visibility of how and when we contact our causes. It’s a great idea and appreciate it helps strengthen messages on the ground. We’ll look to integrate these messages in your future Member Pioneer Updates. Many thanks to you and all the Member Pioneers across the UK who are doing great things to connect with our local causes. Best wishes, April.

      Reply
  2. Great update April. Are you able to tell if it’s possible to have the total being held in pot 4. Most of our customers prefer our 3 charity’s to have an equal share. We have an update instore of the totals for each of our charity’s but I don’t think it by displaying these figures without the total for pot 4 is doing anyone any favours. the 3 totals were £29.41, £48.18 & £10.41.

    Reply
    • Hi Anne, thanks for your comments. Can I just ask, when you make reference to ‘pot 4’ – do you mean members 1% that’s currently unallocated? We only integrate this money at the end of a funding round, although I take on board your comment that highlighting this figure may encourage more members to choose their cause. We will however be sharing information with causes throughout the year about the amount of money unallocated in their communities, which we hope will act as an incentive for causes promote themselves more. I’ll speak with colleagues in food to see if there is anything else that could be done. Thanks for the suggestion. Best wishes, April

      Reply
  3. whoop – Just found out my Guiding units are going to receive close to £1k – massive thanks to all involved x

    Reply
    • Great news..and it’s not finished yet! Please encourage Co-op Members to choose your cause, the fund closes on 27th October, so still 8 months of funding to access!

      Reply
  4. Great blog April, and great advice to all our colleagues to keep shopping own brand, swipe our membership cards and remember to select our cause we want our 1% to go to!

    Reply
  5. Really enjoyed this! Thanks for our shout out too #MiniArmy 🙂 Keep up the great work guys!

    Reply
  6. April
    Great summary of an enormously valuable piece of work!
    Thanks to you and your team.
    Frank

    Reply
    • Thank you, Frank. It’s a truly co-operative venture and certainly wouldn’t be possible without the amazing support and expertise of all our colleagues.

      Reply
  7. Great work April – you’re really bringing the ‘better for for community’ to life.

    Reply
  8. Love the blog April! You and the whole team do an amazing job

    Reply
  9. Great things happen when we all work together! Great read to end the week. #proud

    Reply
  10. April is a ledge!! Keep up the phenomenal work!!!

    Reply
  11. Great blog April.

    Reply
  12. Really enjoyed the update April

    Reply
  13. Great work April and team, hard work has paid off #amazing.

    Reply
  14. Great job April! So much work has gone into the Local Fund. You do a great job. Proud of you.

    Reply
  15. Great update April.

    Reply

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Community, Membership, The Co-op Way