October is Co-op Month 2015!

CoopMonth-stamp-web c64ecCoopMonth-stamp-web c64ecNCBA CLUSA invites you to participate in the 2015 Co-op Month, celebrating all the ways co-ops build a better world—through equality, through ownership and by investing in people and their communities. 

Since 1930, co-ops across the United States have convened every October to celebrate the cooperative movement's history and economic impact on communities nationwide. The annual awareness month provides a key opportunity to reflect on the legacy of cooperative impact and celebrate the many ways co-ops are building better businesses, better communities and, ultimately, a better world. 

We're thrilled to work together this October to energize the cooperative network and help generate the awareness and recognition the movement deserves. Together, we can build a better world with businesses consumers consistently rate as more trustworthy than for-profit businesses, according to the results of the first public opinion survey on cooperatives in more than a decade. Click here to learn more. 

We hope the 2015 Co-op Month Communication Toolkit helps you advance this shared goal. The toolkit includes print-ready posters, sharable social media graphics, sample social media posts and ideas for celebrating Co-op Month.

Use or adapt these sample documents to start planning your own Co-op Month celebration. 


Print Ready Posters 

Print and display in your co-op or include in your cooperative newsletter or other member resource. 

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Design 1

8.5 x 11 CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

18 x 24 CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

24 x 36 CLICK TO DOWNLOAD



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Design 2 

8.5 x 11 CLICK TO DOWNLOAD 

18 x 24 CLICK TO DOWNLOAD 

24 x 36 CLICK TO DOWNLOAD 




Sharable Social Media Graphics

We've created graphics that are optimized for social media to help you celebrate Co-op Month. Please consider using them on your co-op's website and social media platforms during the month of October, as well as posting to your personal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts. 

Horizontal stamp .png CLICK TO DOWNLOAD

Round stamp .png CLICK TO DOWNLOAD


Sample Social Media Posts 

Post the following samples or create your own for your co-op's Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account. Be sure to tag all of your Co-op Month posts with the hashtags #CoopMonth2015, #GoCoop and #Cooptober so you can see how your friends and colleagues are celebrating, share your own ideas and get some new ones. 

October is #CoopMonth2015. Support your local co-ops! #GoCoop #Cooptober 

Happy #CoopMonth2015. See the great work [your organization] is doing: [link to your website]. #GoCoop #Cooptober 

Build a better world through cooperation! #GoCoop #CoopMonth2015 #Cooptober [insert Co-op Month poster jpg]

Build a better world with businesses you trust! #GoCoop #CoopMonth2015 #Cooptober [insert Co-op Month poster jpg]

Did you know one in three Americans is a member of a co-op? Join in! #GoCoop #CoopMonth2015 #Cooptober 

Did you know co-ops are consistently rated more trustworthy than for-profit businesses? Help spread the word! #GoCoop #CoopMonth2015. 

Ideas for Celebrating Co-op Month

Use these suggestions to help kick off your Co-op Month event planning. However you celebrate, let us know by tagging your social media posts with the hashtags #CoopMonth, #GoCoop and #Cooptober. 

  • OwnIt! Embrace your co-op identity by owning a .coop domain and registering to use the co-op mark. These public-facing visual identifiers make it easy to promote the cooperative difference. You already own your business. Now own your identity! 

  • If you'll be in the Washington, D.C. area on October 3, register to run in the 27th Annual Co-op 5K at Hains Point Park. This year's race is a great opportunity to show support for NRECA President Jo Ann Emerson, who remains hospitalized after suffering a brain hemorrhage earlier this year. 

  • Join your local co-op. Already a member of a credit union? Start shopping at your local food co-op, and look for other cooperative businesses to support in your community. October is a great time to #GoCoop by example. If you're already a member of your local co-ops, consider encouraging those co-ops to join NCBA CLUSA. Or, show your personal support and become an individual member

  • Reserve a booth at your local community fair or festival to promote your co-op. 

  • Host a co-op themed block party with food catered by your local food co-op. 

  • Organize a roadside or river cleanup project to demonstrate your co-op's concern for community. 

  • Work with a local health clinic to organize free health screenings or flu shots at your co-op. 

  • Open your co-op as a community space for tutoring or ESL classes. 

The sky's the limit when it comes to getting involved and sharing the impact your co-op has on your community! Let's start sharing all the ways co-ops are building a better world.


NCBA CLUSA webinar reveals consumer knowledge, perception of co-ops

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(August 24, 2015)

NCBA CLUSA’s VP of Advocacy Alan Knapp and Director of Communication John Torres unpacked the results of a survey of more than 1,000 Americans during a webinar last week called, “Consumer Knowledge and Perception of Co-ops.”

Based on the results of the first public opinion survey on cooperatives in more than a decade, the webinar revealed data critical to the growth, visibility and impact of the cooperative movement in the U.S.

The survey, conducted by ORC International in April, reveals that Americans rate member-owned co-ops higher than for-profit businesses in each of the following value indicators—often by margins of 15 – 20 percentage points—despite slim overall knowledge of the co-op business model:

• Have the best interest of the consumer in mind
• Run business in a trustworthy manner
• Committed to/involved in their communities
• Committed to the highest quality of service
• Offer fair, competitive prices
• Can be counted on to meet customers’ needs
• Provide products/services of high value

For-profit businesses scored higher only in the “offer customers more choices” category, and only by 5 percentage points. The survey results assume a 3 percent margin of error, with a 95 percent confidence level, Knapp told webinar participants.

Of the respondents, only 25 percent identified as co-op members, but when counting respondents who said they belong to a credit union, utility co-op or mutual insurance company, the number rises to 43 percent.

Still, “well over half of the people surveyed said they don’t belong to a co-op, yet they think co-ops are highly valuable in the marketplace,” Knapp said. “I think the key takeaway here is that while awareness level is still very low, consumer confidence is high, so how do we bridge that gap? I think we use this value proposition to drive better awareness and more understanding of what co-ops are and do.”

Questions based on gender, age, region, race/ethnicity, household income, household size, number of children and education level were critical in revealing the demographics of co-op membership. The survey indicates that consumer knowledge and understanding of co-ops is the narrowest among young adults, low-income households and people of color—groups Knapp and Torres said the co-op community must make a better effort to serve.

Familiarity with the organization and philosophy of cooperatives and co-op membership grew as education, household income and age increased. The survey found that most co-op members are age 65+, college educated and earning more than $100,000 per year. They were also largely white and mostly concentrated in the Midwest and South.

Thomas Bowen, NCBA CLUSA Former Director of Membership and webinar moderator, said that while surveys provide significant data, the numbers alone don’t suggest a clear path forward.

“What should we do with the data? I think the answer is, telling our story. We say this on every webinar, but it’s so important to share the changes in communities because of co-ops,” Bowen said.

Torres agreed, adding that surveys such as this one help co-op members and supporters avoid misdirecting those stories. “I think we often end up telling our story to people who already recognize the co-op difference. Surveys like this one allow us to identify the key audiences we really need to work on reaching, focusing our efforts to have the greatest impact.” 


NCBA Budget Deal Statement

 

No Tax Increase for Cooperatives in New Bipartisan Budget Deal

Congressional budget negotiators approved a spending plan this week without including measures that would increase taxes on cooperatives. H.J. Res. 59, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a 332-94 vote yesterday and is expected to be approved by the U.S. Senate as well and signed by the president next week. It will set spending levels for the rest of the current fiscal year as well as fiscal year 2015. The $85 billion deal restores $62 billion in scheduled sequester cuts that were slated in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 and preserves the remaining $23 billion toward overall deficit reduction.

“We are delighted to hear that Congress has negotiated a bipartisan budget plan that moves us forward on setting the nation’s spending levels without using tax increases that would affect cooperatives to pay for restoring cuts slated to take affect because of the sequester,” said Michael Beall, president of NCBA CLUSA. “We have been in ongoing contact with key House and Senate staff as the process unfolded. This is a testament to the work of the cooperative community in helping to create an environment where that discussion was left off the table this time.”

The Bipartisan Budget Act caps discretionary spending in fiscal year 2014 (which lasts through September 30, 2014) at $1.012 trillion and at $1.013 in fiscal year 2015. Without this agreement, sequestration levels would have capped spending at $967 billion in fiscal year 2014. Under this plan, non-defense spending would increase approximately 5% during this period from about $469 billion to $492 billion. This potentially would affect many agricultural and foreign affairs programs that NCBA CLUSA advocates for.

Many of the offsets and revenue raised to pay for this added spending comes from various forms of fee revenue, such as increases in security-related fees charged by the Transportation Security Administration, and again not from tax revenue as some policymakers had proposed as an option early on in these negotiations.

Congress will still have to pass a continuing resolution or omnibus appropriations bill with these new budget caps for fiscal year 2014 by January 15, 2014 or the country will face another government shutdown. Stay tuned.

Congress Returns with a Heavy Workload

By R.L. Condra, Vice President for Advocacy, NCBA CLUSA

The Capitol BuildingThe Capitol BuildingThe Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.

Congress returns next week from summer recess with a lot on its legislative plate including important fiscal deadlines that expire in September and October. Congress will need to pass a short term “continuing resolution” by September 30 to keep the federal government from shutting down. This is due to not being able to pass one of the 12 appropriation bills that fund our government. Another deadline, and one that is vital to our government and economy, is the need to raise the debt limit that will cap in October. The White House will have to work out a deal with Republicans on increasing the debt limit in exchange for their demands on spending cuts and changes to “Obamacare.”

Additionally, there are major pieces of legislation that Congress will have to tackle such as passing a farm bill that will expire by the end of September, an immigration reform bill and comprehensive tax reform. CEO’s and executives in the business and financial industries including many cooperative sectors are anxiously waiting to see how Congress addresses tax reform when they plan to release bill drafts this fall.

While there are important domestic responsibilities that need to be addressed, the situation in Syria will be the focus when the Congressional session begins next week. For September, the House has only nine working days and the Senate has 16 to accomplish their legislative requirements. How will they do this in such a short time?

A senior Senate aide provided a breakdown of the priorities for the next few weeks. The aide said, “We will have to address the situation in Syria, then take care of our fiscal responsibilities such as appropriation bills and the debt ceiling. Once we have our fiscal house in order, we will be able to focus on issues such as immigration reform and other domestic issues.”

The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the apex association for cooperative businesses in the United States and an international development organization. NCBA CLUSA provides cross-sector education, support, and advocacy that helps co-ops thrive. For nearly 100 years NCBA CLUSA has sought to advance and protect cooperative enterprises, highlighting the impact that cooperatives in bettering the lives of individuals and families. In the last 60 years, NCBA CLUSA has grown its international development portfolio to over $34 million of active programs in 15 countries.

Will there be a Farm Bill?

By R.L. Condra, vice president of advocacy, NCBA CLUSA

Tractor 350x350Tractor 350x350For decades, the farm bill has been a legislative tool that guides farm and nutrition policy for both the agriculture industry and the federal government. The comprehensive bill is passed every five years and oversees industry sectors outside of the agriculture scope, including trade, rural development, conservation, and research. During the process of passing a farm bill, there is usually heated debate on its policies and budget, but the final product is passed with bipartisan support from lawmakers. As is the case with most legislative responsibilities of the current Congress, the outlook for passage of the farm bill is doubtful heading towards a September 30 deadline when the current bill expires.

What’s holding up passage of the bill?

The Senate passed its version, but the House of Representatives’ bill failed passage due to disagreements over the funding of the food stamp program known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. To complicate matters, the House then took out the nutrition title of the bill, which included SNAP funding, and approved the agriculture portion of the legislation.

Next Steps

When Congress returns in September, the House is scheduled to pass the nutrition title if it can agree on food stamp funding levels. If passed, the two Congressional chambers will need to negotiate their differences with a conference committee, but even then, there will be differences in funding levels and policy priorities. By the way, the House has only nine working days in September and the Senate has 16 before the current bill expires at the end of the month.

At this point, no one in Washington is certain on how this process will play out. Will there be an extension of the farm bill? If so, how long? Will it be included in a continuing resolution and debt ceiling agreement? Or, will Congress possibly extend the 2008 bill? Stay tuned to the CBJonline for updates about the farm bill in the next few weeks.

If you have questions or comments about the farm bill or other legislative matters, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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