By Nick Crofts, Co-op Foundation CEO

The Co-op Foundation is the Co-op’s charity and we’re passionate about living our co-operative values. I’ve seen this first-hand over the past year as CEO as we’ve pledged a series of commitments that have empowered our partners to build fairer communities. 

We’ve also given young people the power to develop meaningful campaigns and become leaders and worked in partnership with Trustees, partners and the Co-op to develop an exciting new strategy.  

Today, I share the product of this work with our wonderful 2021 digital Impact Report. Created together with our partners, this report spotlights the incredible things they’ve achieved in a challenging year that has continued to redefine ‘normal’ life for the communities we love.  

Read our Impact Report and help us spread the news by heading over to Social Hub and sharing on social media.  

Building foundations  

2021 was a year of exciting transition for the Co-op Foundation. I joined on 4 January and held my first meeting with colleagues over video call from my home in Liverpool. It took another five months before we could meet in person. In this time, we’d achieved a lot.  

We’d begun to rebuild our team, more than doubling our numbers of funding and communications colleagues while also strengthening our Board. Three new trustees are now in place, including Michael Fletcher, and two young trustees, Hope Levy-Shepherd, aged 27, and George Imafidon, 24.   

We also re-imagined how we could best support our partners by signing up to a series of pledges to be a better funder. Read more from my colleague Louise.

Funding  

We acontinued to award grants and run campaigns that delivered on Co-op’s vision of ‘Co-operating for a fairer world’ in 2021.  

We awarded £2.2m in grants, including £366k to help community spaces partners bounce back from covid and £250k to Refugee Action to lead the Co-op’s response to the Afghan refugee crisis.  

We also helped to develop a new generation of volunteers and leaders, by engaging more young people in our Lonely Not Alone campaign and supporting our #iwill Fund partners run youth social action projects.   

Finally, we put learning at the forefront of our minds with formal evaluations of two of our most successful multi-million-pound funds. Read what we learned about delivering youth work during lockdown in this blog by Deanne.  

A bright future  

For the past six months, we’ve also been busying ourselves by developing a new Foundation strategy. The purpose of this is to build on our success of recent years and carve a space in the funding and co-operative worlds for a new type of Co-op Foundation. We want to be exciting. We want to be pioneering. And we want to work equitably with others.  

Work on this strategy is now almost complete. We’ll keep you up to date in Colleague Stories and I hope you will check in and keep an eye out for updates on our social media.  

Remember, you can help us spread the news by heading over to Social Hub and sharing on your social media. 

Watch this space and read more about what we’ve achieved in our 2021 Impact ReportContact us if you want to talk about ways we can work with your team in 2022.