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Plunkett Foundation and community-owned shops

The Plunkett Foundation is the leading national charity for rural communities wishing to take control of the issues that affect them.

We work with a wide range of organisations, funders and government departments to develop support programmes for rural co-operatives and social enterprises. We believe that communities are the building blocks of social change and we provide practical help and advice to enable them to develop their own sustainable futures. We:

  • seek economic solutions to create social change
  • seek solutions that enrich rural community life
  • see self-help as the most effective way to tackle rural needs

The Plunkett Foundation was established in 1919 by Sir Horace Plunkett, the pioneer of agricultural co-operation in Ireland. We were founded to take forward the principles outlined in Sir Horace’s Three Betters – Better Farming, Better Business, Better Living.

Better Farming means using the best possible modern technologies to help a business succeed. Better Business is co-operative business – Sir Horace saw that only enterprises owned and run by rural communities could help those communities in the long run. Better Living is the understanding that enterprises should be judged on their ability to improve the quality of life for rural communities.


Living legacy - community-owned shops

The success of community-owned shops is part of Sir Horace's lasting legacy to rural communities. They are resilient forms of business which are opening in record numbers, with 39 opening last year alone. In 25 years, 253 shops have opened and 246 are still open, meaning only 7 have ever closed. Today, community ownership saves 10% of village shops that would otherwise have closed.

Through our VillageCORE programme, the Plunkett Foundation offers a comprehensive package of financial support and practical advice to communities wishing to own and run their village shop. Once on the programme, communities will then have access to life-long, free business advice from the Foundation and its partners and automatically join our Community-owned Shops Network, enabling the sharing of best practice across England, Scotland and Wales.

By stocking local food, community-owned shops are responding to the very real consumer need for fresh local produce, increasing their sales and supporting the local economy.



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