Having worked as a charity fundraiser, I know how difficult it can be for small community groups to find money to carry out their work. Many charitable trusts don't fund groups unless they are a registered charity (which is fair enough I suppose but can be problematic for small local groups run on a shoestring) and there is a surprising lack of trusts that will fund projects that just need a small amount of money - I guess a lot of funders like to be associated with big impressive projects!
So it is heartening all round to see The Cooperative Membership Fund. This grant scheme is funded by members of The Co-operative donating some of their share of profits, which is then given away in the form of small grants. This year The Co-operative Members have donated £1.2 million to small charities and other local community groups across the UK.
Another great thing about the Co-operative is that it is an ethical company - you can read about their commitment to tackle Climate Change here. Many community groups looking for charitable funds like to know that the funds they accept are not the proceeds of trade or activities that don't fit in with the groups ethics. (For example some projects don't accept money from the Big Lottery as they don't agree with gambling). A group can be comfortable applying for funds from the Co-operative knowing that the money doesn't come from the proceeds of, for example, selling weapons. Anyone who banks with the Co-operative (as i do), will be very pleased to see some of their profits used to support small community groups across the country.
The Co-operative Membership Fund supports a wide range of activities across the UK, including local food groups, such as Incredible Edible Rossendale, which encourages local people to grow their own food, increasing people's connection with the land and decreasing the carbon footprint of their food by reducing food miles.
You can view a selection of videos featuring supported projects on this page of the Cooperative Membership Fund website. The website also outlines how to apply for funds. In brief, to be successful a group must:
- Carry out positive work in the community (it does not have to have charitable status to apply)
And the project must:
- Address a community issue
- Provide a long-term benefit to the community
- Support co-operative values and principles
- Ideally be innovative in its approach
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