SolidFund: Growing the UK Cooperative Economy

• Written by Alanna Irving

SolidFund is a grassroots commonwealth fund for worker co-op members. John Atherton talks about their aspirations and operations, and how using Loomio is helping them build the worker cooperative econoomy in the UK.

Our vision is to grow a thriving network of worker co-ops in the UK. Individuals can put one pound a week into the fund and become a member. They get to vote with the other members on what we do with their money. This could be subsidising events, supporting members to visit each other, providing support to each other, developing new materials, or projects to promote worker cooperation.


Supporters of SolidFund gathered for a web development working bee

Collaboration is really important to us, and that's why we're using Loomio. We have about 450 members from all over the UK. It's very rare that we can get all our members together in one place.

Loomio provides a really good solution for members to get together online and make decisions, and for those decisions to be recorded. And for the whole process to be done in a very participative way.

We tested Loomio alongside some other software, and really it was that concept of having a discussion that can turn into a proposal, and then the proposal can be voted on, that really chimed with our thinking. That's why we've ended up using it.

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All of the decisions that the co-op makes are within Loomio. From purchasing decisions to who is going to be our web host — some fairly mundane operational issues. The more interesting use of Loomio is about funding projects and initiatives that the members believe will further worker cooperation. They're not easy decisions sometimes.

When it actually goes for a vote, members can make a really informed decision of whether to fund or not. Because it's gone through this process of discussion before it's gone to a formal proposal, it's more likely to be approved.


SolidFund resourced members of the Belfast Cleaning Coop to visit the Custom House Worker's Coop in East London.

That's really the joy of Loomio: not everything is put straight away to a proposal and a vote. You can discuss things and iron things out, and then you can vote. That works really well for dealing with quite knotty issues.

We're really helping cut costs, and really helping the environment, because we have to meet less in person. The one place you can know what's happening — where you can know what decisions are being made and, obviously, take part in those decisions — is through Loomio. The platform really is the heart of our cooperative.

The quality of the discussion and decision-making we can do on Loomio helps our cooperative run more smoothly, and ultimately will help us grow the worker cooperative economy in the UK.

Interested in working collaboratively? Start a Loomio group!

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