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.”
In 2014, Columinate introduced co-ops to the Four Pillars of Governance in an effort to show how the Policy Governance model fits in a broader framework of governance. As part of his work as a Visiting Scholar at the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop on Political Theory and Policy Analysis, Art Sherwood collaborated with Marilyn Scholl and others from Columinate to create this model to help organizations govern flexibly and effectively. A model is a way of framing so that the parts and processes make sense. Our Four Pillars model is not about changing systems but is a new way of making sense of governance. In the eight years since we introduced it, we have found that it helps organize board thinking about the complex task of governance. It does not supplant other theories or systems of governance, but rather provides a framework for boards to use in developing and applying those systems.
Often challenges within the board stem from a lack of agreements about governance. Cooperatives and nonprofit organizations differ in key ways from private corporations. Perhaps most importantly, operating within a defined social purpose requires skillful and conscientious governance by the board of directors—and the board’s leadership is felt throughout the entire organization. Governance is the act of steering an organization toward success. It consists of answering key questions, defining roles and responsibilities, and establishing processes for setting expectations and ensuring accountability.
The Columinate Cooperative Board Leadership Development (CBLD) program provides annual board support that includes monthly consulting, facilitated board retreats, board training, and resource development. CBLD helps boards take advantage of their collective knowledge and talents, identify their annual goals, and connect with specific resources for their challenges of the moment. The program is run and staffed by industry professionals with experience and expertise in a variety of areas, and it can help to broaden the knowledge base each co-op has to draw upon to meet their goals.
Updated in 2017-18, this manual is the result of a collaboration between Columinate and National Co+op Grocers. It guides boards of directors of food cooperatives through the steps needed to ensure a clear and professional process, resulting in the hiring of a well-qualified manager. Those steps are: Arrange for interim management Set up a committee to coordinate the hiring process (the Search Committee) Define [...]
By Michael Healy Do you have a mid-term vacancy on your board? Are you considering appointing someone to fill that position? Here is a suggested process that has worked well for a number of boards: Collect names of potential candidates. Sources may include your existing pool of candidates suggestions from current directors suggestions from the GM or membership manager or other staff people who [...]
From a director’s perspective, what are the core ingredients of a great board meeting? Starting and ending on time probably top the list for most people, followed closely by everybody arriving prepared to do work that’s worth doing. A bit of dinner or at least a communal bar or two of chocolate, shared in a comfortable and welcoming space, can also be a make-or-break [...]
Maple City Market Goshen, IN Year founded: 1976 Membership investment: $100 Number of members: 3,000 Number of employees: 25 Recently, Goshen, Indiana was named “Community of the Year” by the state’s Chamber of Commerce. For many years, this northern Indiana town on the border of Michigan held many undiscovered charms. No longer. It’s an increasingly diverse town recognized for its civic pride, hosting many [...]
Imagine that your co-op’s board of directors simply disappeared for a year or two. What would happen? Certainly, the absence of a functioning board would violate a key legal requirement for a cooperative business. Members would also lose an important point of connection to their co-ops and one avenue to raise questions and concerns. And the risk of errors, oversights, and poor performance could [...]
By Rebecca Torpie, Thane Joyal 196 May-June 2018 What does it mean to be an owner of a consumer cooperative? At the most fundamental level, cooperative ownership means that we are in business together. And for the owners of a cooperative that is under substantial market pressure (and what business isn’t?), everything the business does needs to match the needs and aspirations of the community that [...]