Today hundreds of communities across the country have used community shares to save local shops and pubs, finance renewable energy schemes, transform community facilities, support local food growing, fund new football clubs, restore heritage buildings and much more.
This growth has seen the number of community share offers double to over 500 offers since the 2014 study, with over £150m raised from over 100,000 members. However, there has been limited enquiry into the model during this time. It is hoped that this research will provide a much richer picture of the community shares market, both in terms of understanding more about the offers that have launched in the last five years, as well as learning more about the established organisations that have been trading for a number of years.
In particular, the research is seeking to understand how successful share offers have been to date - both financially and in terms of their wider social impact and community benefit. It is also looking to understand the characteristics and motivations of community shares investors and how these may have changed over the period.
It is expected that the findings from the research will help prospective organisations to better understand the challenges and opportunities when launching their own share offers. It is also hoped that the research will provide a valuable and powerful evidence base to attract further support and funding to the space to help new and existing groups raise finance in this way.
In order to achieve this insight, the research comprises two main activities:
- Improving and extending the community shares data that is available - allowing us to confidently understand the scale and scope of the community shares market
- A survey of organisations that have launched community share offers
- A survey of investors that have bought community shares
This study is being supported by the charitable trust Power to Change along with partners Community Shares Scotland, Community Shares Wales and Co-operative Alternatives (Northern Ireland) to ensure that the study covers community shares across the UK.
The CSU is a joint initiative between Co-operatives UK and Locality, which since 2012 has supported organisations with their share offers, promoted best practice and tracked the growth of the community shares market.
The research will be published in Spring 2020 with the release of a detailed report, an open dataset for community share offers and a series of events to showcase the findings.