The United Nations has declared 2012 the International Year of Co-ops (IYC), recognizing the contribution of co-operative enterprise to community development, employment, and food security. 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. The Year of Co-ops is an unprecedented opportunity for our co-ops to educate the community about our co-ops, and promote the co-operative business model as tool for building a thriving regional economy.
Below are some ideas on how our food co-ops can promote the Year of Co-ops.
- Message. “The United Nations has declared 2012 the International Year of Co-ops, recognizing the contribution of co-operatives to community development, employment and food security.”
- Tagline. Wherever there is an opportunity (newsletters, websites, social media, posters, etc.) repeat the core message of the IYC: “Co-ops Build a Better World”.
- Logo. Use the “International Year of Co-ops” Logo (above) in websites, social media, newsletters, posters and educational materials. The NFCA obtained permission from the UN for all of our member co-ops to use this logo for educational purposes. Contact us for an electronic version (please note that the logo cannot be altered or used to promote a specific product or company).
- .Coop Domain. Use the “.COOP” Domain for your co-op’s website and e-mail addresses, raising the profile of co-ops online. Visit http://www.na.domains.coop/ for more information.
- Link Up. Help spread the word about the IYC and NFCA member food co-op by including our webpage address in materials, on your co-op’s website and in social media: www.nfca.coop/iyc.
In the Store
- Use the NFCA’s “Go Co-op” Shelf Talkers (at right) to promote co-op suppliers throughout 2012. Shelf talkers include NFCA’s web address so that shoppers can learn more about the IYC, the NFCA and other co-ops in our region. E-mail or call us for more copies.
- Seek out Co-op Products to offer on your shelves. Visit www.nfca.coop/co-opproducts for a list of co-op suppliers
- Offer staff NFCA’s IYC Buttons to wear in the store, increasing recognition of the IYC logo and message. Contact us for free buttons for your store.
- 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”.
- Fundraise for Co-op Development during 2012. Set aside a day, week or month to fundraise for the Howard Bowers Fund (www.cdf.coop/howard-bowers-day/), the Cooperative Fund of New England (www.coopfund.coop), or the Cooperative Development Foundation’s “Hurricane Irene Recovery” Fund (www.nfca.coop/recovery).
- 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.
- Include the IYC logo and 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 the IYC. (For a customizeable template: IYC Press Release Template NFCA.doc.)
- Include Stories about Co-ops in our region in your food co-op’s newsletter, e-newsletter or website. (Visit http://nfca.coop/co-opprofiles for stories to reprint.)
- Tell Your Co-op’s Story and on the IYC website: http://stories.coop/tell-your-story
- Post a link on your website to the NFCA's Inspiring Videos page, or post the videos driectly on your co-op's webpage.
In the Community
- Invite NFCA staff to give a Presentation on the Year of Co-ops and our region’s Co-operative Economy at a membership meeting or other co-op event.
- 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.
- Organize or participate in a Tour of the farm of a local member of an agricultural co-op. Some co-ops in our region that you may want to contact include:
- Use the National 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. (Scheduled to be available from the NFCA in February 2012. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information).
- 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).
- “The Fish Belong to the People”, featuring fishery co-op Port Clyde Fresh Catch.
- “The Take,” a movie about worker co-ops in Argentina.
- Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” includes content on worker co-ops.
Start a Book Group on co-operatives at your food co-op. Some recent titles include:
- John Restakis’ “Humanizing the Economy: Co-operatives in the Age of Capital” (Available at your local bookstore or from New Society Press, www.newsociety.com.)
- Frances Moore Lappé’s “Eco-Mind” and “Getting a Grip,” which include information on co-ops.
- Michael Shuman's Local Dollars, Local Sense, which has a chapter on co-ops featuring some of our NFCA member 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.).
- The United Nations: http://social.un.org/coopsyear/
- International Co-operative Alliance: http://2012.coop
- National Cooperative Business Association: http://usa2012.coop
- Co-op Stories: http://stories.coop
- YES! Magazine articles on Co-ops: http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/cooperatives
Don’t forget to tell us what your co-op is doing to celebrate in 2012. Send your ideas and copies of your co-op’s IYC ads, press releases, promotions, and newsletter articles to email@example.com so we can share them with other co-ops in our community.