NCBA CLUSA is dedicated to the continued growth and strengthening of cooperative businesses across the United States. Cooperatives at all levels provide a much needed and sought after alternative to other business models. Throughout the United States, NCBA CLUSA is working with local cooperatives to embed them as permanent fixtures in their local economy. Through the implementation of cooperative development grants, NCBA CLUSA is providing support and training to coops across all cooperative sectors, through case studies and economic impact research. Using that research and the power of the collective cooperative voice, NCBA CLUSA advocates on Capitol Hill on behalf of coops, fighting to maintain or increase government funding for cooperative programs and securing access to legislature that protects the cooperative business model.

Our domestic development work is grounded in our three-part mission:

• to raise the profile of cooperatives
• to promote and protect the cooperative business enterprise model
• to drive cross-sector collaboration among cooperatives in keeping with Principle 6 of the Cooperative Principles

We believe in collaboration, and in bringing value to the many efforts already underway through our cooperative development partners and intermediaries that are doing the necessary ‘boots on the ground’ cooperative development work.

In our role as facilitator, convener, and financing partner, we assist our partners in their work with strengthening the structure, reach and financial sustainability of existing cooperatives, and as well as their efforts to establish new cooperatives. In particular we are collaborating with Cooperation Works! and Cooperative Development Centers across the country to develop more diverse – and sustainable – funding for their important work.

We are responding to local and regional nationwide that are interested in establishing Cooperative Business Associations, with the intent of creating local cooperative ‘chambers of commerce’ to drive the financial success of cooperatives in these associations, raise the profile of cooperatives in their communities, and foster cross-collaboration among cooperatives.

Using the power of cooperative development work and our collective cooperative voice, NCBA CLUSA advocates on Capitol Hill on behalf of cooperatives, fighting to maintain or increase government funding for cooperative programs and securing access to legislation that protects the cooperative business enterprise model.

Throughout the United States, NCBA CLUSA is working with cooperatives and cooperative development organizations to embed cooperatives in their local and regional economies. With our partners NCBA CLUSA supports cooperative development, funds cooperative education, and promotes the need for research to continually strengthen the case for cooperatives in our economy.


Is your co-op's order-to-cash performance moving in the right direction?

iStock-business-500 79994iStock-business-500 79994A recent benchmark report from The Accounts Receivable Network measures how companies are making strides in integrating and automating their processes.

Everywhere you look in business, the barriers to collaboration and integration are breaking down. And few areas show that more strikingly than Finance. Whether it’s a closer working relationship between procurement and accounts payable or better collaboration between accounts receivable, billing, and collections, silos are falling. Recently The Accounts Receivable Network (TARN) published a benchmark study, "Benchmarks: AR/Order-to-Cash Integration, Automation, and Performance Metrics" measuring each of those areas, based on study participants. What that study found was that functions that were once highly decentralized are now, for the most part, centralized in a single center. By taking a more holistic approach, Accounts Receivable, rather than just being the center where payments are received, is now part of the whole order-to-cash continuum, including billing, collections, credit management, reporting and sales order entry.

Participants included 100 organizations, 65 percent of them B2B enterprises, that ranged in size from companies with less than 500 employees (34 percent) and less than $50 million in revenue (27 percent) all the way up to those with more than 50,000 employees (13 percent) and more than $25 billion (11 percent) in revenue. The Finance/ Insurance and Healthcare/Social Assistance sectors comprised the largest participation.

Accounts Receivable 

When talking about integration, it’s first necessary to establish the operational models of the participant, from fully centralized to partially centralized to decentralized, all the way down to outsourced. The study shows that centralization in a single center is the major model, with percentages in the various order-to-cash functions ranging from 32 to 49 percent. Another obstacle to full integration comes in the reporting hierarchy, which varies according to the specific function. This can definitely get in the way of a more holistic approach, especially when:

Credit reports to Controller or CFO (23 percent/22 percent)

Order Entry reports to Sales manager/director or Controller (30 percent/20 percent)

Collections reports to Chief accounts receivable or Controller (21 percent/18 percent)

Order-to-Cash Integration

When the report turned to order-to-cash integration, companies were asked how important they consider process integration to be. Companies supplied answers from absolutely no linkage (13 percent) all the way up to formal coordination at 43 percent. And when it comes to measuring a company’s attitude toward process ownership, 45 percent (a percentage almost twice as large as any other response) said, “We perceive value in taking a process view and examining possible realignment of functions for better integration.”


The prevailing view is that automation has made its mark felt most strongly in the procure-to-pay (P2P) process, but that order-to-cash (O2C) automation is moving up. The TARN survey measures the level of automation the respondent is currently employing and planning to implement, as well as comparing the levels of automation across functions. Although there are automation solutions for every step in the order-to-cash and credit-to-cash cycle, most companies questioned have not implemented many of them. Of those surveyed, only one technology, ACH, passed the 50 percent mark. Others close behind are ERP/Accounting System (49 percent) and Electronic Lockbox Imaging (48 percent).

When it comes to planning for the future, close to 40 percent of respondents indicated that they were not planning to implement any automation technologies (other than those that already existed). Other responses for planned automation technology were:

Customer Portal (17 percent)

Cash Application Automation (14 percent)

E-invoicing system/EIPP/EBPP (12 percent)

ERP or Accounting System (12 percent)

E-payment Acceptance Solution (11 percent)

Automated Sales Order Processing (10 percent)

Of the specific functions that were automated, billing and AR held the top positions, while credit and collections were the least automated.

Performance Metrics

You can’t manage what you can’t measure yet many of the companies in this report only measure basics, such as days sales outstanding (DSO) and the percentage of current AR, both at around 70 percent. Only one other metric ranked above 50 percent, that being the percentage of AR greater than 60 days. All other metrics tracked at 40 percent or lower.

Improve your accounts receivable department with the right automation solution.

—NCBA CLUSA Gold Level Associate Member and Business Sponsor Corcentric provides financial process automation solutions for buying groups, purchasing cooperatives and their members. This thought leadership piece was written by Corcentric Senior Vice President of Sales Dave Lindeen.

NCBA CLUSA’s ‘Operation Connect’ will convene credit unions, electric co-ops to offer financial literacy, energy efficiency education

OperationConnect-logo-500 92f6aOperationConnect-logo-500 92f6a

(September 22, 2015)

Currently in its pilot stage, a project designed to promote financial literacy in communities served by electric cooperatives while building credit union membership is gaining momentum and generating enthusiasm among co-op sector leaders.

Called Operation Connect, the project brings together credit unions and rural electric co-ops operating in the same geographic location to promote financial literacy, budgeting skills and long-term financial planning for the 42 million electric co-op members nationwide.

“A small but significant portion of these members experience difficulty in meeting their payments, often due to a lack of financial literacy in budgeting their financial obligations,” said project architect Adam Schwartz, an NCBA CLUSA senior consultant for Domestic Operations and founder of The Cooperative Way. “The payment collection process, disconnect and reconnect of electricity is costly for both consumers and electric co-ops,” he added.

“If we can intercede to end this cycle, we can improve quality of life for electric co-op members while also growing the number of credit union members,” Schwartz said.

In Virginia, the Fort Lee Federal Credit Union and Prince George Electric Co-op have already partnered to offer financial literacy seminars paired with easy, low-cost home improvement ideas to help lower monthly household energy costs. There are several other potential cross-sector partnerships in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Colorado and Minnesota, Schwartz said.

NCBA CLUSA is working with its project development partners, including the CUNA Cooperative Alliance Committee, and the National Credit Union Foundation to create a toolkit that credit unions and electric co-ops can use to expedite the rollout of Operation Connect nationwide.

Pat Sterner, NCBA CLUSA COO for Domestic Operations, said cross-sector efforts, such as Operation Connect, are a priority for NCBA CLUSA. “We are thrilled to launch a project that puts Principle 6—cooperation among cooperatives—in action while building financial independence and energy efficiency in communities across the U.S.,” she said.

NCBA CLUSA anticipates a full launch of Operation Connect in 2016, Sterner said.

New Filene Research Institute report captures millennials perceptions of credit unions

millenials-choice 2 1dbccmillenials-choice 2 1dbccMillennial responses when asked why they did not choose credit unions over banks.

What Millennials Want: The Future of Millennials in the Credit Union System, a new report from the Filene Research Institute, reveals how millennials perceive credit unions compared to commercial banks. For the past 25 years, The Filene Research Institute has been a non-profit, independent think tank for the consumer finance industry. A summary of the findings and their significance is explored by University of Wisconsin Law School Lecturer Andrew Turner in this article:

In a competitive marketplace, attracting the youngest generation is not just good business; it’s a survival imperative. Millennials 18–24 years old have been a key focus for credit unions over the last 10 years—and for good reason: There are nearly 71 million millennials, born between the late 1970s and early 1990s, in the United States today. The potential for credit unions to capture a significant market share of this demographic is pretty high by even the most conservative estimates or projections. And yet, the flood of new members has never really happened. 

Why, then, have credit unions struggled in capturing the hearts and minds of millennials throughout the last decade? After all, the financial meltdown of 2008 should have been the turning point for credit unions to overtake banks as the primary financial institution of choice for young adults. The stigma of the word “banks” should have been enough to drive millennials toward credit unions. Do the youngest millennials understand the credit union concept as well as their parents and grandparents do? 

This study addresses what has been done and what can be done to help the youngest millennials—particularly the 18- to 24‑year-olds—better understand the credit union system and the principles it operates on. Using a mix of primary research and literature review, we were able to create a foundational study that outlines how 18- to 24‑year-olds currently perceive credit unions, whether they differentiate between banks and credit unions, and whether credit union characteristics such as nonprofit status and member governance matter to them. 

The study suggests strategies that are worth considering:

Technology isn't enough to impress. 

Social media is crucial for engagement 

Focusing on price will cost you the game

Many young millennials are unaware of the core principles of the credit union system. Credit unions can capture this young demographic by providing them with personalized products of great need and relevance. 

Filene thanks our generous supporters for making this important research possible. 



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