Our members and supporters
Our membership is diverse and includes faith groups, fair trade partnerships, small businesses, schools, and community organisations as well as individuals. We closed the year with 10,228 members with 68% of Share Accounts held by individuals. Investment increased by £3m, the highest amount recorded in several years, to reach a closing Share Capital total of £46.1m.
We use a range of communication channels to engage with volunteers, current and potential members, and other key stakeholders.
The majority of our volunteers are also members, and so as well as their dedicated e-newsletter, they receive our quarterly member newsletter, Quarterly Return (QR). QR has developed in line with our brand over the past 30 years. In 2018, our triennial Member Survey revealed that there was an appetite for more in-depth features and sector-related information and QR was adapted accordingly.
Following the impact of Covid-19, we included additional pages to report on the challenges facing producer communities. The newsletters were very well received, with members contacting us directly with messages of appreciation for the detailed regional updates included.
Each year, we also continue to produce an Annual Review, and include a summary booklet within Winter QR. Our younger investors receive a ‘Little Book of Fairness’, which is a children’s version of the Annual Review.
We continued to use either in-country photographers, or photographers who are already visiting the country in question. We also continued our membership of the People in the Pictures group, run by international development network, Bond.
Print advertising campaigns have proved an effective means of generating new enquirers, particularly when editorial features and/or digital activity support them. As such, we use an integrated approach and plan our campaigns to dovetail both online and offline platforms. Insert campaigns form the backbone of our activity, and this year we maintained our relationship with titles such as Amnesty magazine, The Big Issue, and Guardian Weekend magazine, running 11 campaigns in total.
Throughout the year, we supported relevant campaigns, which were connected to our work. These included Good Money Week, World Fair Trade Day, and Fairtrade Fortnight.
Over the course of the year, 287 people opened a Share Account online. A total of £855k was invested online, 16% of overall investments made (2019: £487k). During the pandemic, we encouraged members to manage their Share Accounts online to reduce the need for print and postage.
This year has brought Shared Interest a high amount of award success. In December 2019, our Managing Director, Patricia Alexander was named winner of the Global category for the North East Times Impact Awards. The Impact Awards highlight those people based in the UK, who have made an exceptional impact across five key areas – financial, global, regional, profile and innovation. In April, Shared Interest received the Queens Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category for the third time (previously recognised in 2008 and 2013.)
Just a month later, we were announced a NatWest SE100 Impact Management Champion and named as one of the Top 100 Social Enterprises in the UK. We were also shortlisted within the Enterprise Category of the Third Sector Awards.
Receiving these awards presented us with opportunities to raise our profile and we subsequently featured in a range of online and print titles.
Volunteer communication and events
We continue to adapt our volunteering strategy to harness evolving motivations and needs. This year brought further changes to the ways people engage as volunteers, especially our Ambassadors who usually attend events on our behalf. Due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, presentations, stalls, and talks were postponed, cancelled, or moved online.
This year, 92 volunteers were involved Shared Interest overall. This included 11 volunteers who joined us and we said thank you and farewell to 20 volunteers. As we have increased the number of volunteer roles we offer, we have seen a growing number of volunteers carry out more than one role with us.
We update volunteers on operational activities and stories showing our impact throughout the year. We recognise the achievements of our volunteers and continue to mark the national celebration of Volunteers’ Week.
Our translator volunteers used their skills to convert 27,685 words into French and Spanish across our website and other materials.