By Faye Emery, Community Fund Operations Advisor
I’ve been at Co-op for 10 years and worked within the Community and Shared Value Team for more than six. My role involves managing the day-to-day operations of the Local Community Fund, from application, right through their 12-month funding partnership with us.
The Co-op Local Community Fund supports projects that our members care about. Every time our members buy selected Co-op branded products and services, 2p for every pound spent goes back on their membership card and we’ll give the same to support community organisations and local causes. Since 2016 our members have raised £100 million for local communities. The money raised by our members includes supporting over 30,000 local causes across the UK.
Once you become a Co-op member, you get to choose which Local Community Fund cause you’d like to support. This year we’re supporting causes that; enable people to access food and co-operate together to feed everyone, help improve people’s mental wellbeing, offer young people opportunities to develop new skills and those that help to protect local biodiversity or tackle climate change by reducing carbon emissions.
Supporting our causes
Some of my key responsibilities are looking after all the data we hold for our causes, producing datasets for stakeholders, as well as keeping our causes up to date with information about the fund and the communities we work with.
A huge amount of work happens in the background to ensure that all our causes are still operating effectively towards delivering their projects, before we issue them with the money raised. Again, without data, this would be a huge challenge, tracking and managing the responses from 4,500 causes (twice a year) is a big job. Without the help from organisations such as the Charity Commission (England & Wales Charity Regulator) and OSCR (Scottish Charity Regulator) creating large downloadable datasets, we’d have to manually check each cause!
We’re committed to being as transparent as possible and that’s why we’re working with 360Giving to publish information about our grants alongside other funders. This information, over time, will help both grant-makers and those looking for funding to make more effective decisions.
360giving’s flagship tool is GrantNav, a free search engine and the UK’s first and only place to access open, comparable data on UK grant making. It helps people explore and download data on over 580,000 grants worth over £108bn given to causes across the UK.
First in food retail
We’re currently the only food retailer sharing our data openly. Aligning to our principles, we’re open and honest about what we do, so publishing our grant data only seems right. By doing this, we can monitor our progress alongside our organisational strategy, enhancing our understanding of the work we do. We’ve given nearly £85million to causes over the last six years, and it’s great to be able to showcase the positive impact we’re making in our communities.
Where does it all go?
It’s a great tool for our members and local groups, to see where our funding goes. Our Member Pioneers, who provide that vital link within communities, can see where there’s opportunity to make a further difference and help projects make informed decisions.
Without the Charity Commissions and their wealth of data we wouldn’t be able to successfully validate our groups who apply to the fund and then publish this through 360Giving. These are such vital tools to us and we’ll be utilising them to publish the data on our Interim payments for the Local Community Fund, where we’ll be paying out £1.4million to local causes this April.
Unleashing the Impact of Grants Data
360Giving’s vision is for grant making in the UK to become more informed, effective and strategic. Read more about how they aim to shift the norm from funders sharing data to using it and, create a permanent transformation in data culture and practice.
The 360Giving Data Standard is governed by the Stewardship Committee and I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity to join. It’s their role to oversee and account for the appropriate and timely maintenance of the Data Standard, including what upgrades are required and the process for making them. I’m excited to see what the future holds for publishing grant data.
It’s a great feeling to know the impact the funding has had to grass root organisations we support. The commitment and determination from groups such as our local causes is incredible and makes me so proud to be part of it.
Apply to the Local Community Fund
To find out more or how to apply for our next round, head to causes.coop.co.uk – applications close on 29 May. Don’t forget, if you’re already a member, download our Co-op app and select the cause you’d like to support.