Using our own funds where they can make the most difference

Two people drawing and in conversation

15 May

By Nick Crofts, CEO of the Co-op Foundation

There can be no doubt about it – lots of us are feeling the pinch right now. Whether it’s energy bills or inflation, it’s certainly a tough time for communities all over the UK.  

But it’s not just individuals who’re are being affected. As a relational funder, we speak regularly to our partners and they’re telling us that they need extra support in order to work most effectively. That’s why we’ve recently committed to drawing down £1m from our endowment to help them survive and thrive during the cost-of-living crisis. 

This funding boost will enable us to provide a cost-of-living grant uplift to some eligible partners. In addition, we’ll also extend our grant giving to some of our existing partners and boost funds that support young people, education and charity diversity. 

As Co-op’s charity, it’s important that we listen and learn to partners and communities. We hope this support will make a difference as we build communities of the future together more effectively and deliver on Co-op’s vision of ‘Co-operating for a Fairer World’. 

Our endowment fund 

Our endowment fund is made up of various donations that are invested for the Foundation’s use. Until recently we have been using the interest generated from ethical investments  for colleague salaries.  

But money saved for a rainy day is only useful if you spend it when it rains. With inflation at having recently peaked at a 45 year high of 10.4% and many communities struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, now felt the right time to draw down some funds to help others. 

How we’re using our funds 

We’ll use our £1m drawdown to provide: 

  • A cost-of-living uplift for some eligible partners with live grants in 2023, to help them with some of the challenges they face due to increased costs. 
  • An increase to the value of financial inclusion fund we hope to work on soon. This aligns with our strategic priority to build more prosperous communities. You can sign up to our blog below for more updates.   
  • Continued funding for three amazing partners who are delivering powerful outcomes against our new strategy. This includes £30k for the Compass Collective, which provides support to young refugees, £40k for the Children’s Society’s HEARTs Programme that supports unaccompanied migrant children, and £105k for Young Scot, the national youth body for Scotland.  
  • Two new grants to existing partners who align with our new strategy – unrestricted funding of £26k a year for two years (£52k in total) to Getting on Board to increase diversity across charity boards and £75k over three years for Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) to support their Open and Trusting community. We signed up to IVAR’s eight commitments to being an open and trusting grant maker in 2021. 

We look forward to working with all our partners in 2023 and we hope our additional support goes some way to helping them over the next 12 months and beyond. 


At the Co-op Foundation, we’re committed to creating communities of the future together with those that we fund. I want to visit even more partners this year, to see the impact that our funding makes on local communities, and how those with lived experience are making an impact. 

I am keen to see how our increased funding will be targeted by our partners where it is needed most, in line with our commitment to being a flexible funder. I want to see if and how our support helps our partners so that we can share our learning with other funders.  

To keep up to date with our funding news, subscribe to our blog below. You can also donate to us through our JustGiving page or give your Co-op Member Reward online or in your app. 

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