There are many ways to support the co-op movement and we offer a number of them below. In the cooperative spirit, we’ve included a number of allied organizations and the many ways you can support them.
- Make a yearly time donation. We suggest thinking about 0.1% of hours worked at the co-op. For example, a 3-person worker co-op or a consumer co-op with 3 staff members, with workers working a 40-hour week, 50 weeks each, would total 6,000 hours, meaning the suggested time donation would be 6 hours for the year. Co-operators can provide assistance to other co-ops by presenting at workshops and conferences, providing direct consultation or mentoring, organizing networking activities, and so on.
- Make a yearly cash donation: We suggest thinking about 0.01% of gross annual revenues. For example, if a co-op’s gross sales were $300,000 during the year, the suggested donation would be $30. There are many options of entities to donate to, and donations directly to co-op projects (e.g. through fundraising projects) are good destinations for monetary support as well. You can support CDI by visiting our donation page.
- Advocate: Policy issues can provide cooperatives with opportunities for better legal support, more funding, and more political clout. You can see recent or upcoming advocacy opportunities we’re tracking here.
- Invest reserves in co-op development: When cooperators make their cash available to other co-ops as a source of credit for cooperative expansion and start-up, the co-op economy can grow faster. Options for investing include: cooperative development funds, cooperative capital funds, Certificates of Deposit dedicated to particular co-ops, preferred stock in cooperatives, and credit unions (particularly community development credit unions that accept deposits from outside their field of membership).
Celebrate and Promote
- Celebrate Co-op Month: October has been designated as National Cooperative Month. It is a chance to educate members and the community about the role of the cooperative business model in providing a stable, trustworthy site of economic benefit – and to have fun!
- Promote the co-op business model: Even outside of October/Co-op month, each cooperative should promote the “cooperative difference.” Functioning democratically is in line with values we cherish as citizens. An up-and-running cooperative business is the best advertisement for the worth of these ideas.
Make Critical Connections
- Provide referrals: People interested in developing a cooperative should be able to find the resources they need to move their project forward. Refer those seeking information to CDI or other co-op developers to ensure that they will get plugged in to what is available.
- Create co-op to co-op business relationships: These could include having other co-ops as vendors, as clients, as contractors, as joint venture partners, etc. See also the NCBA Marketplace or deals from preferred vendors or information on how to become a preferred co-op vendor.
- Network: Individual co-ops succeed better when they are part of a cooperative environment. If networks exist, co-ops should join and participate in them; if they don’t, they should seek to form them.
Worker Co-op Associations
- Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives (Pioneer Valley)
- NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives
- Worker-Owned and Run Cooperative Network (Boston)
- US Federation of Worker Cooperatives
Food Co-op Associations
Farmer Co-op Associations
Housing Co-op Associations
- Boston Community Cooperatives
- Cooperative Housing Association of New England
- North American Students of Cooperation
Local/Regional/National Cross-Sector Associations
For a great overview of the many organizations nation-wide that support cooperatives, see the July/August 2015 issue of Rural Cooperatives.
There are many, many examples of cooperatives fulfilling the Sixth Cooperative Principle. CDI salutes those efforts and commits to eliciting similar activity from all the cooperative groups who work with us.
“Nothing can prevent the united consumer from working for themselves with the aid of mutual credit, from building factories, workshops, houses for themselves, from acquiring land; nothing — if only they have a will and begin.” –Gustav Landauer