From food co-ops to farmer co-ops, worker co-ops to credit unions, and housing co-ops to energy co-ops, co-operative enterprises help people to help themselves and build stronger, more resilient communities. Each October, Co-op Month provides an opportunity to educate the community about our co-ops, and promote the co-operative business model as tool for building a thriving regional economy.
The theme identified by the National Co-operative Business Association (NCBA) for 2014 is “The Co-op Connection. How Does Your Co-op Connect?” This basic message is an invitation to our co-ops to promote the many ways that we work together, connect our members and collaborate with other co-ops and organizations to build stronger, more sustainable communities.
The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is itself an example of the power of connection, bringing food co-ops together across New England to support our shared success and build a more healthy, just and sustainable regional food system. We don’t do this work alone, of course, and collaborate with other co-ops, credit unions and partner organizations as we work toward our vision of a thriving regional economy.
Below are some ideas on how food co-ops can celebrate Co-op Month and promote the difference that co-operative enterprise makes. By working together with other co-op sectors and organizations, we can communicate the impact of the co-operative business model when we connect in our in communities and around the world. We will update this page with additional resources as they become available.
- “The Co-op Connection. How Does Your Co-op Connect?” The theme for National Co-operative Business Association's celebration this year is an invitation to our co-ops to promote the many ways that we work together, connect our members and collaborate with other co-ops and organizations to build stronger, more sustainable communities.
- Link Up. Help spread the word about our collective imact and other NFCA member food co-ops by including our webpage address in materials, on your co-op’s website and in social media: www.nfca.coop/about.
- Spread the Word. Put a Co-op Month story in your newsletter, on your website/blog posts, or send a Co-op Month press release to local press promoting how your co-op builds connections with the wider co-operative movement. To download a customizeable Co-op Month newsletter story/press release with images: click HERE.
In the Store
- Use the NFCA’s “Go Co-op” Shelf Talkers (at right) to promote co-op suppliers in your food co-op. Shelf talkers include a web address where shoppers can learn more about co-ops. Download a template for channel tags (*print on pre-perforated channel tag paper) HERE
- Display the NFCA's "Co-op Connection" Rack Cards to promote Co-op Month to members and shoppers in your food co-op and at special events. NFCA member co-ops will receive a bundle of cards in September in preparation for Co-op Month.
- Share the What is a Co-op? Our Co-op and the Wider Co-operative Movement presentation with your co-op's staff, board, and/or members. Email us for a version you can customize: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Seek out Co-op Products to offer on your shelves. Visit www.nfca.coop/co-opproducts for a list of co-op suppliers
- Offer Monthly Specials on a product or products from co-op suppliers and include a short description of the co-op in promotional materials.
- Organize End Caps of co-op products, and/or include co-op products in special seasonal promotions.
- Invite co-ops to Demo Their Products in your food co-op. Some co-ops in our region that you may want to contact include:
- If your co-op sells Books, consider stocking recent titles that include content on co-ops, such as John Restakis’ “Humanizing the Economy: Co-operatives in the Age of Capital” and Frances Moore Lappé’s “Eco-Mind”. See our list of books in the "Book Group" section below.
- Fundraise for Co-op Development during Co-op Month. Set aside a day, week or the whole month to fundraise for the Howard Bowers Fund (www.cdf.coop/howard-bowers-day/), the Cooperative Fund of New England (www.coopfund.coop).
- Join other Co-ops. As a food co-op, join other food co-ops in our region that have organizational members (such as Old Creamery Co-op and River Valley Market), as well as co-ops such as FEDCO Seeds (www.fedcoseeds.com/members.htm).
Invest in Co-ops. Set aside some of your food co-op’s resources to invest in the success of other co-ops in our region. Some options include:
- Making a social investment loan to the Cooperative Fund of New England (www.coopfund.coop).
- Explore investing in co-ops that accept external investment (such as Equal Exchange or Organic Valley).
- Making a loan to another NFCA member food co-op that is growing or expanding.
- Post Co-op Month Posters in your store during September and October. Download a pdf HERE
- Include Co-op Month core messaging in your co-op’s Advertising. (For a copy of the logo, e-mail us.)
- Do a special Press Release on your co-op’s plans to celebrate Co-op Month. (Click here for a template.)
- Invite other co-ops and credit union in your community to do a shared ad for Co-op Month. For an example from the Valley Co-operative Business Association, click HERE
- Include Stories about our Region's Co-ops in your food co-op’s newsletter, e-newsletter or website. (Visit www.nfca.coop/co-opprofiles for stories you can reprint.)
- Post a link on your website to the NFCA's Inspiring Videos page, or post the videos driectly on your co-op's webpage: www.nfca.coop/videos
- .Coop Domain. Use the “.COOP” Domain for your co-op’s website and e-mail addresses, raising the profile of co-ops online. Visit www.na.domains.coop/ for more information.
In the Community
- Promote Other Co-ops in Your Area by inviting farmer co-ops, worker co-ops, energy co-ops, etc., to share information at your co-op or at a co-op event. Invite your local credit union to have an informational table at your food co-op. For a map of co-ops in our region, visit www.nfca.coop/co-opeconomy.
- Use the New England Farmers Union Curriculum, "Co-operatives: The Business of Teamwork" in education & outreach programs at your co-op, or share it with local schools and community organizations that do educational programs. Curriculum includes content for grades 1 to adult. Download a copy HERE or e-mail email@example.com for more information on printed copies.
- Reach out to your local Girl Scouts with Cabot’s “Co-ops for Community” patch program that encourages girls to learn more about the value of co-ops, builds leadership skills and supports community connections for Girl Scout troops.
Hold a Video Showing and discussion forum with a film that includes information on co-ops such as:
- "Civilizing the Economy: The Co-op Alternative" (Pt. 1: 27 min; Pt. 2: 25 min; compilation version: 25 min), dvd available on loan to member co-ops from the NFCA or for purchase from the British Columbia Co-operative Association (http://bcca.coop/content/publications).
- Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” includes content on worker co-ops.
- "Shift Change," featuring Spain's Mondragón co-ops and worker co-ops here in the US.
- “The Take,” a movie about worker co-ops in Argentina.
Start a Book Group on co-operatives for members at your food co-op. Some recent titles include:
- “Humanizing the Economy: Co-operatives in the Age of Capital,” by John Restakis. Available at your local bookstore or from New Society Press, www.newsociety.com.
- "The Cooperative Solution," by E.G. Nadeau. This short book (109 pp) makes the case that co-ops across sectors are the solution to many of the major economic, social, and environmental problems in the United States today.
- “Eco-Mind” and “Getting a Grip,” by Frances Moore Lappé both include information on co-operative business and social change.
- "Local Dollars, Local Sense," by Michael Shuman includes a chapter on co-ops featuring some of our NFCA member food co-ops.
Help your members Share Your Co-op with others:
- “Bring a Friend to Your Co-op Day.” Offer some incentive for every member who brings in a friend who has never shopped in their Co-op or who brings in a friend to join, or…
- “Bring Your Co-op to Work Day.” Create basic materials for how members can share about their Co-op at work (in staff meetings, bulletin board) or in community groups (book club, sports, etc.).
Don’t forget to tell us what your co-op is doing to celebrate Co-op Month. Send your ideas and copies of your co-op’s ads, press releases, promotions, and newsletter articles to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share them with other co-ops in our community.