Plunkett Foundation helps communities to take control of their challenges and overcome them together. 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, from isolation and loneliness to poverty, and come in many forms including shops, cafes, pubs and land-based initiatives, and everything in between.

Sir Horace PlunkettOur core values are the values of the great Irish co-operative pioneer, Sir Horace Plunkett, who founded  Plunkett Foundation in 1919. He believed that rural communities didn’t have to wait for someone else to make life better for them; they had the potential to do it themselves – with a little help. His values are embedded in the heart of what we do:

• We seek economic solutions to create social change
• We seek solutions that enrich rural community life
• We see self-help as the most effective way to tackle rural needs

Who was Sir Horace?

Sir Horace was a truly extradordinary 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. He continued to work tirelessly for what he believed in, and in 1919 went on to establish the Plunkett Foundation.

Where do we work today?

Today we continue to take forward the passion of our founder and help predominantly rural communities to use co-operation to save what's important to them. Our team of core staff and specialist advisers are based across the UK and Ireland and we offer support to communities wherever we can.

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 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 and partners on our programmes, from the Prince's Countryside Fund, the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the Power to Change Trust and Big Lottery Fund to Locality, Co-operatives UK and Sustain. 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.