Plunkett Foundation helps communities to take control of their challenges and overcome them through co-operation. We support people, predominantly in rural areas, to set up and run life-changing community co-operatives; enterprises that are owned and run democratically by large numbers of people in their community. They help people to tackle a range of issues such as isolation, loneliness and poverty, and come in many forms including shops, cafes, pubs and land-based initiatives, and anything in between.

Our governance

Plunkett Foundation is a charity registered in England and Wales (CC 313743), and in Scotland (SC 045932). We are also a company limited by guarantee (00213235). As a membership organisation, we have an engaged membership consisting of individuals, organisations, and community co-operatives who are passionate about our work. We are governed by an active Board of Trustees whom are elected by our membership.

We're also proud members of the international co-operative movement, members of the International Co-operative Alliance, International Co-operative Agriculture Organisation, Co-operatives Europe and Co-operatives UK.

Our Story

Our organisation has been supporting communities for almost 100 years, having been founded by the great Irish co-operative pioneer, Sir Horace Plunkett, in 1919. The Foundation was originally established to promote the co-operative model internationally, and over our history, our work has taken interest in various models of co-operation around the world, and ranged from research, awareness raising and business support. Today, our work is primarily concerned with community co-operation in the UK, and we support communities at every stage of setting up and trading.

Who was Sir Horace?Sir Horace Plunkett

Sir Horace was a truly extraordinary man. Born in 1854, the son of an Irish peer, he graduated from Oxford and spent 10 years cattle-ranching in America’s Rocky Mountains. Returning to Ireland after his father's death in 1889, he became concerned with the survival of Irish farmers, still emerging from mid-century famine and increasingly beset by competition from Europe and the USA.

When Sir Horace established a co-operative butter-making industry in southwest Ireland, farmers soon realised the benefits of controlling the production and marketing of their staple commodity. In 1894 he founded the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society with 33 affiliated dairy co-operative societies or “creameries”. Just four years later there were 947.

When setting his vision for the Plunkett Foundation, Sir Horace’ concern was that co-operatives, to succeed, needed to remain rooted in long term community control by those who benefit from them – hence the term ‘community co-operative’.  

Plunkett’s Strategy

Today, we actively represent a network of over 500 rural community co-operatives that are trading across all parts of the UK and we support these organisations to thrive. Our strategy, which runs from 2015-17, aims to grow this sector by raising awareness of the co-operative model to more communities than ever before, and to particularly reach geographic areas and individuals most in need.

Our partners

We're really proud of the work we do to help rural communities to set up life-changing community co-operatives, but we couldn't do it alone. We work with some fantastic funders from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Prince's Countryside Fund, Power to Change Trust and Big Lottery Fund and partners such as Locality, CAMRA, NALC, ACRE and the Post Office. If you'd like to find out more about our partners, or you'd like to find out how we can work together, please get in touch with us.