Enrollment for Columinate’s Financial Training for Directors is open! This will be the last session of this series in 2022, and we’d love to see you there. Monitoring the financial health of the organization is often the most intimidating responsibility assigned to co-op directors—but it doesn’t have to be! This training “covers the most important and critical aspects of co-op finances in a thoughtful, easy-to-understand manner,” explains Dave Olson, senior director of retail support at National Co+op Grocers. “Whether [you] just need a refresher or are entirely new to financial concepts, this virtual series can empower [you] to understand and participate in financial conversations with confidence.”
Taught in tandem by Leslie Watson, Columinate Cooperative Board Leadership Development (CBLD) consultant, and Brittany Baird, co-op resource manager with National Co+op Grocers, this online session of Financial Training for Directors kicks off on November 3. The training will cover a range of topics throughout its four online sessions, including seeing the story in your co-op’s financial statements; understanding the importance of budgeting and planning; and, most importantly, developing the ability to spot issues and raise critical questions. “I was on a board for several years before I became a consultant, and at first, I felt like I was faking it. There was a lot of financial information to go through, and while I didn’t need to be an expert, I needed enough understanding to be confident asking questions about what I was seeing,” shares Leslie. This training provides directors with a strong base of financial fluency that enables them to ask meaningful questions about their co-op’s financial performance and have confidence in their oversight role.
Running for its third year, Columinate’s Finance Training for Directors has quickly become a favorite among participating directors. Shari Gross, board president of Erie Food Co-op, had a strong finance background within a health-care setting, but the retail perspective was new to her. “The training was valuable to me, despite my finance background, because it put the essence and business of food co-ops into perspective. And, I left with a better understanding of what my general manager was looking at on a daily basis.” Erie Food Co-op now requires every new board member to complete this training. “In my experience,” explains Shari, “most co-op board members feel insecure about their knowledge of finance. With access to this training, we’ve found a way to overcome that—there’s no reason to sit on the board lacking confidence!”
With both interactive and instruction-based learning, this training is designed for the experienced and novice alike. “Leslie andBrittany are a fantastic, knowledgeable duo. They developed an efficient, thoughtful, and engaging series that did a good job of meeting every participant where they are at,” shares Mary Cogswell, board president of Boise Food Co-op. After the turnover of a few general managers and pandemic-related financial challenges, the Boise Food Co-op board was looking to become higher functioning. “Taking this course felt like the least we could do as a board—our due diligence,” she said. “And it was incredibly helpful.” Attending Columinate’s Finance Training for Directors together as a board (twice!) gave them a shared understanding and language for discussions about important financial issues, such as what makes good reporting. “We hadn’t had that level of confidence as a board before. We were on the same page and felt competent enough to review our quarterlies.”
Now is a particularly opportune time to enroll in Columinate’s Finance Training for Directors. With rising inflation and general economic uncertainty, it’s important to feel comfortable and equipped with understanding the financial foundations if you are to discuss how these issues will impact your store. “I can’t recommend this course enough,” said Mary Cogswell. “Whether you’re a new board trying to get your footing, or yours is a board that feels confident, this is a fantastic opportunity to make sure you’re all on the same page.”
Enroll in the November Finance Training for Directors here. This training is free to CBLD members. It is $150 per person for non-members. Special pricing is available for startups and financially challenged co-ops. Please contact Leslie at email@example.com for more information.
Sessions occur on the following dates. Recordings of sessions will be made available to those who cannot attend live:
Thursday, November 3, 2022 at 7:30pm–8:45pm ET
Thursday, November 10, 2022 at 7:30pm–8:45pm ET
Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 7:30pm–8:45pm ET
Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 7:30pm–8:45pm ET