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. 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. Co-ops are also more common than you might think: One out of every three Americans is a member of co-operative.
The theme identified by the National Co-operative Business Association (NCBA) for 2015 is “Building a Better World with Businesses You Trust.” This basic message is reminder of the many ways that co-ops enable people to work together to build businesses that are rooted in and accountable to their communities.
The Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) is itself an example of the impact co-ops can have, bringing together over 30 food co-ops and start-ups across New England that are locally owned by more than 90,000 people like you. 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 communities and around the world. We will update this page with additional resources as they become available.
- “Building a Better World with Businesses You Trust.” The theme for National Co-operative Business Association’s celebration this year is an invitation to our co-ops to promote the co-operative difference. Unlike other business models, co-ops are owned and governed by their members, the people who use the products and service provided by the business. In this was, they are more accountable to and rooted in the communities they serve.
- 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. Print 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. Use the hashtag “#CoopMonth” in social media communications.
- Communicating the Co-op Difference. How can you tie the “co-op difference” into your marketing and messaging? Need a sample Co-op Elevator Pitch? Use this resource to help communicate the co-op difference
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. You can download templates here to print on pre-perforated channel tag paper: Bulk, Grocery, Refrigerated & Wellness items, and Cheese & Dairy items.
- Display the NFCA’s “Go Co-op” 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: email@example.com
- 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:
- Cabot Creamery Co-op. Contact Clay Whitney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Equal Exchange. Contact Becca Konager at email@example.com.
- Organic Valley. Contact Karen Innis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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 your 2015 Co-op Month Posters: Design 1, Blocks & Design 2, Sphere
- 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. E-mail us 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.