Crowd power to keep our bank ethical
When most of the shares in The Co-operative Bank were sold off to private shareholders in 2013, a group of bank customers, supported by Ethical Consumer magazine, formed the Save Our Bank Campaign to make sure the bank didn't drop its world-leading ethical policy. Within a few months, over 10,000 bank customers had signed up. We also attracted advice and support from banking academics, professionals and other specialists.
Through crowd power, the campaign successfully persuaded the bank not to water down its ethical policies, and a refreshed policy was launched by the bank in January 2015.
With the co-operative stake in the bank still small (currently 20%), it has become clear that Save Our Bank needs to become a more permanent body, a watchdog that can campaign for a larger co-operative voice and buy shares in the bank to help build up the co-operative stake.
We are now crowd funding to raise £15,000 to transform the Save Our Bank Campaign into a democratic member organisation, in the form of a co-operative union of customers.
Why form a customer union?
We have three main aims for the customer union:
- Keeping and pushing forward the bank’s ethical policies and campaigning,
- Building a strong customer voice in how the bank is run
- Growing a “co-operative stake” in the bank, and campaigning for its eventual return to majority co-operative ownership.
We think this is probably the first ever union of customers for a single company – a group of customers acting together to drive ethical behaviour – so this is a historic opportunity for you to help create it.
We believe ownership matters, and that co-ops are a better, fairer and more democratic way of doing business, so we want to see the Co-op Bank return to being a true co-operative, owned by its customers and employees.
The Customer Union for Ethical Banking will be a co-operative, owned by you, its members. As an organised group of customers it will be able to influence the bank while building up the cooperatively-owned stake.
How will my money be used?
As a supporter of the crowd funding campaign, you will become one of the first members of the Customer Union. Your funds will help us to register a co-operative society, build our membership base, build online participation tools and to continue to campaign on ethical banking for one year from the start date.
We will collaborate with like-minded stakeholders, acquire more shares in the bank, keep members up to date with latest developments, conduct research for future campaigning, and host our first annual conference.
In future we hope to be able to sustain ourselves from annual membership fees. Full details of how our projected costs will break down are included in our initial business plan. Once the democratic participation elements of the union are up and running, it will be up to you, our members, to decide how best to protect the values of our Co-operative Bank into the future.