We heard that beer tastes better when it’s community owned. What do you think?

Communities all over the UK are rallying together to save their much-loved pubs from demolished futures by taking ownership of the asset.

In the current economic climate, with new figures highlighting that as many as 29 pubs are being closed down each week, it’s no surprise that communities are fighting back to save the institution which remains at the heart of Britain’s social centre.

Community shares (a form of share capital unique to co-operative and community benefit society legislation) have the wonderful potential to increase community morale and also raise investment from the very people which an enterprise intends to benefit, with both The Spotted Cow and Auctioneers Arms standing as prime examples.

Camilla Parke, Investment Associate at BSC, said, Community shares are an important source of finance for community-led projects. They give individuals the opportunity to invest in projects, create positive impact in their local areas and to have a say in how these projects are run for community benefit. We’re delighted to see the community shares market growing, and organisations like The Spotted Cow and Auctioneers Arms gathering community support and investment to protect and maintain really important community assets.”

Located in Holbrook, Derbyshire, The Spotted Cow raised an investment of £190,860 from the Crowd, alongside a £100,000 pledge from Big Society Capital (available match-funding for crowdfunded investments made by individuals into Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) eligible charities and social enterprises). Whilst developers intended to partially demolish the building and turn the site into housing, the Holbrook community had some very different ideas and instead looked to save their village pub. Residents of the local area united and set out to create a community owned asset that would run for the good of the village and provide support to the whole community.

Similarly, Auctioneers Arms, located in Caverswall, Staffordshire, also benefited from a £98,280 pledge from BSC, alongside £102,800 raised from the Crowd. With an impressive history of pulling pints for over 150 years, Auctioneers Arms also wanted to take ownership of their local pub and send out the message that it wasn’t simply about saving the venue, but rather that by coming together they could create a community hub for the benefit of everyone.

Nicole Hamilton, Head of Frontline at Plunkett Foundation, said, “Plunkett are delighted to see the Spotted Cow and Auctioneers Arms achieve their community shares target through the Crowdfunder platform. Both groups were supported by the Plunkett Foundation via the More than a Pub Programme and have chosen to open as a community pub business, benefiting their local community and members, who have invested through Crowdfunder and have a democratic say in the running of the enterprise. We wish them every success in the future.”

By highlighting to the local residents the true potential that a business could have in serving a community purpose, both pubs are now benefiting from strong community bonds. We caught up with Brian from Auctioneers Arms and Chris from The Spotted Cow to find out about their experience of crowdfunding for a Community Share Offer.  

Why did you decide to use Crowdfunder for your community share campaign?

AA: We decided to launch our Community Share offer on Crowdfunder because of its popularity and reputation. We liked the fact that the project project provided for your campaign was so well laid out, and the fact that we had option to upload a video to tell our story was an element that worked really well. With tools available such as Project Updates, we found that it was easy to keep our supporters informed for the duration of our campaign, and after it closed too.

SC: We used Crowdfunder for our Community Share offer mostly to cast the net wider for potential investors – and also, we knew that we might be able to access Big Society Capital funding – which we did!

What do you think is the most important thing to keep in mind when organising your community share offer?

AA: Regular communication with your supporters is vital to the success of your project.

SC: A good way to keep up the momentum of your community project is with events.

Did you receive much press coverage?

AA: Yes, we did. We achieved this by using social media, mainly Facebook and Twitter, and also by contacting our local newspapers. Plunkett Foundation also assisted us with media coverage.

SC: Yes, we did. We contacted local TV and radio stations, which was also picked up nationally!

What’s your one top piece of advice to anyone thinking about starting their own community share offer?

AA: Make sure that your business plan achieves the Community Share Standard Mark, as this instills trust and confidence in your supporters and potential investors.

SC: Throw an opening event!

What’s next for The Auctioneers Arms/The Spotted Cow?

AA: We completed the purchase of the pub on 5th Jan 2018 and are in the process of refurbishing it in preparation for opening in the Spring.

SC: Now that the business is up and running, we need to ensure that we meet the needs of our shareholders, so we are currently in the process of sending out questionnaires.

Why do you think community shares are so important?

AA: Because they  give the local community a sense of pride and ownership.

SC: Investing locally can keep essential services open and create social cohesion.

Read more about how Crowdfunder can help you with your community share idea and use the form at the bottom of the page to get in touch today.

We have additional money available to either help you set up or that can contribute extra funds to your Community Shares Offer.

Do you have the Power To Change?
On the seventh day of crowdfunding, let's take a look at this - seven communities changing!