We know that the idea for a community co-operative often starts with just one or two people. But it's vital for the success of the project to involve a wider group of people as soon as possible and to continue to involve new people throughout the project. This will make sure the whole community feels ownership of the project and encourage more and more people to get on board.

Form a working group

It's important to form a working group who will lead the next few steps, and have the task of gauging whether the project has local support and whether it's viable. The working group members don't necessarily need to stay on the committee in the long run, and other people may be elected by your members at your first Annual General Meeting (AGM) - we'll talk more about this later. 

It's a good idea for your working group to set out your aims and what you want to achieve with the project. It's also helpful to allocate some roles and responsibilities to people - such as someone who looks after the finances, for example - as this will help you to have a clear purpose and keep your goal in sight. Once you've drawn up your aims and objectives, it's important that you turn this into your governing document that you can use to communicate with your community about the purpose and scope of your working group and the people involved in it. We can help you do this. 

Consult with your community

You need to consult with your community to make sure that you have local support and get an idea of what your co-operative will offer. Does your community need a shop that sells essentials and local produce? Perhaps you need somewhere that people can come together and socialise? Whatever the reason, you need to listen to the needs of your community and find out if people are willing to invest in the idea, and if so, how much. Funding bodies will also want to make sure that you've done this to demonstrate the community need. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • Questionnaires
  • Articles in your local paper, parish newsletter or local magazines
  • Setting up a website or Facebook page and promoting your questionnaire
  • Undertaking a doorstep survey
  • Organising an open day or holding a public meeting 

Elect a committee

If your questionnaire results show that your idea has strong community support, the next step is to set up or elect a management committee. This committee will take over from the working group and take on the responsibility of setting up your community co-operative. It should consist of a Chair, Secretary and Treasurer, and it's good practice to have another 4-6 people with specific roles to lead sub-committees on things like:

  • Business planning
  • Fundraising
  • Operations
  • Communications

Next steps

Once you've elected a committee it's time to look at setting up a suitable legal structure, working up a business plan and raising some finance