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The Co-op Foundation

The Co-op Foundation is the Co-op’s charity. They believe co-operation is at the heart of strong communities. In 2022, the Foundation worked with young people to create a vision of future communities that are fair and built on co-operative values. Now they’re working with young people and others to turn this into reality.

The Co-op Foundation worked alongside young people to create a vision of future communities that are fair and built on co-operative values. This visioning work helped the Foundation identify, with the help of young people, six strategic priorities that the charity’s  funding, campaigns and support must focus on in order to build a fairer future.

The priorities that emerged were: prosperous communities with access to opportunity, safe communities, diverse, equitable and inclusive communities, healthy communities, sustainable communities, and communities that prioritize youth activism, shared power, and transparent governance.

The Challenge

The Co-op Foundation’s campaign team wanted to know which of the strategic priorities young people thought the charity should campaign on to best achieve their vision. They also wanted to know what type of campaign young people would want to see and what would drive them to get involved.

To do this, the Foundation required a robust understanding of which themes and campaigning actions resonated most with young people, as set out in its ‘Vision for Future Communities’, as well as gauging how 16-25 year olds interact with and partake in campaigns to help drive awareness and engagement with future campaigns.

Our approach

We were commissioned to interview 2,000 16-25 year olds from across the UK through an in-depth online survey, with a boost of those from marginalized groups including those from ethnic minorities, Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) and those with disabilities.

To inform the design of the questionnaire, we conducted two focus groups with young people that included a creative task where participants conceptualized their own campaign, using Miro to map out their ideas.

The outcome

Overall, we uncovered that the primary area demanding attention and improvement through campaigning is health and wellbeing (according to young people). This includes mental health, physical activity, and access to healthcare. Maintaining a healthy work life balance emerged as a focal point, which has prompted the Co-op Foundation to consider this as a key area of concern for future campaigns.

This was closely followed by safety, which encompasses crime reduction, rehabilitation, women’s safety and community spaces and activities. It may be somewhat surprising that sustainability didn’t emerge as a top priority for young people. However, it is quite a ‘saturated’ area within campaigning. Therefore, the results might indicate that young people perceive a requirement for directing attention towards different social issues.

Improving diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)—which includes raising awareness and advocating for diversity and inclusion, fair access to resources, and targeted support based on those who are more in need—was ranked the third most important priority overall. Diving into the detail to establish which specific actions relating to DEI resonate most with different audiences, helped the Co-op develop a ‘golden thread’, to emphasize the importance of upholding DEI values throughout the entire campaigning strategy.

On reflection, the Co-op Foundation’s campaign team said that involving Savanta earlier in the Visioning Strategy’s development process would have been beneficial in ensuring the language was more accessible. This successfully pinpointed areas of focus relating to demographic differences and allowed our client to break down the results at a geographical level and develop their regional campaign strategy.

The research proves particularly valuable in helping the Foundation improve its understanding of younger audiences not already connected to the Co-op.

We wanted this piece of research to help shape our future campaign strategy at the Co-op Foundation. We wanted the results to help guide us on what matters most to young people right now and give us insight into how we could work with them on future campaigns. That’s why it was imperative for us to choose the right agency to help us deliver this piece of work, and why we’re glad we chose Savanta. They took the time to really understand what we were trying to achieve, using their expertise to make valuable suggestions that would help us capture the insights we needed to inform our strategy. They delivered a comprehensive report that not only delivered on the original brief, but has really helped shape our decision making. Overall, we had a very positive experience working with Savanta and we would definitely consider working with them again on future projects.