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| 1 minute read

Something different with money

Ten years ago the Community Shares Unit started promoting this unique form of financing for local and community organisations. It is a significant milestone celebrated in the last couple of weeks with the publication of this report, which notes that over £210m has now been raised through community shares.

A joint initiative between our friends at Locality, Co-operatives UK and the Plunkett Foundation (all organisations of which Anthony Collins is proud to be a member), the Community Shares Unit has promoted the simple but radical idea that ordinary people can exercise choice about how and where, we put our money.

Community shares have given people the opportunity to invest in locally-owned homes, community pubs, renewable energy, in community-owned farms... across almost any sector you care to name.

Community shares use the community benefit society legal structure, which enables the use of a particular form of share capital known as withdrawable shares. Withdrawable shares do not function like shares in a company and it is really important that any organisation - and anyone considering putting any money in - understands the key differences. These are all clearly outlined in the introduction to the Community Shares Handbook if you want to know more.

We're very proud to have supported organisations who have raised funds through doing a community share issue, including reviewing governance arrangements and the information that is being put out to the public. Using community shares isn't for every group or organisation, but it is a great way of enabling and developing democratic and collective ownership.

As Rose Marley, CEO at Co-ops UK, notes in the report: "This is collective action by communities who are frustrated with waiting for change or concerned about losing much-valued services. Community shares are enabling communities in innovative and life-changing ways while ensuring that both ownership and control of these community businesses stay with the people they matter to the most." 

It has been a decade since the Community Shares Unit launched in 2012 with over £210 million raised using this unique form of finance.


asset transfer, community ownership, co-operatives and mutuals, governance, regeneration, social business, social enterprise