Sat 13 Nov 2021 2:19PM

Members4Cooperation - A new organisation organising within cooperatives to increase cooperation between cooperatives

LS Leo Sammallahti Public Seen by 92

Me and @Iwan Doherty recently set up a global network called "Members For Cooperation". The idea is to organise ordinary rank-and-file members of big and old cooperatives to prompt them to cooperate more with smaller and younger cooperatives.

The method is simple:

  1. We have a short sign-up form asking people what coops they are members of and what would they be willing to do to prompt their coops to support the wider movement. People sign-up and join an email list.

  2. Compile existing and historical examples and come up with new ideas on actions big and old coops can take to cooperate with small and new ones.

  3. Mobilise the members of big and old coops to lobby for their coops to take action in supporting the wider movement. We want to try to use the existing imperfect but greatly underutilised democratic mechanisms within coops - voting and putting forward member resolutions in AGMs, standing as candidates in elections for member representatives, etc.

Our approach is:

  • Come up with constructive and concrete proposals, not criticism.

  • Create cooperation, not conflict between members and management.

  • Make modest and mutually beneficial, not massive demands.

Our first campaign was to get the Co-op Group and Nationwide Building Society to allocate 0.01% and 0.05% of their profits, or a total of £150,000 to grants for new cooperatives. It was a super simple idea and going forward we would like to come up with something more sophisticated. The goal was to put forward a member resolution in the AGMs of both of these coops, but we fell short on finding enough signatures to do so (100 for the Co-op, 500 for Nationwide). However, we never really envisioned to succeed at first try. We did get 196 members to sign-up to our email list, making the next attempt more likely to succeed. The idea is to start similar campaigns across the world regularly, so that they accumulate more people to strengthen a shared network.

We would like other cooperators to join us, especially in regards to:

  1. Join us for a monthly call to discuss how to coordinate the network.

  2. Create a democratic governance structure for the network.

  3. Improve the website and add content there.

  4. Promote the network in the social media, email newsletters or lists of small and medium sized coops/orgs

  5. Help us with pointing out to past and present examples of cross-cooperation between big, old cooperatives and smaller, newer ones.

  6. Help us come up with new ideas on how cross-cooperation can happen.

  7. Help us campaign to replicate best practises and put new ideas into practise

Going forward, we might want to ask for funding from Platform6 to purposes such as:

  1. Sponsoring campaign, such as our "coop coupon/gift card fund", which would sponsor credit unions, building societies and others to provide gift cards or coupons to their members. We are now talking with a tool-sharing cooperative in Rhode Islands to cooperate with local credit unions, so that when those credit unions give out home improvement loans to their members, they would also give a coupon or a gift card that could be used to borrow tools from the tool-sharing coop.

  2. Provide incentives for people to sign-up: for example, to incentivise people to sign up to Members4Cooperation, we could provide a coupon code for Revolver Coffee, and perhaps Platform6 could perhaps sponsor this. Something like "sign-up and receive a coupon code for to get 10% off for orders of tea and coffee on Revolver Coffee!".

Also would love to hear your thoughts about this in general!


Nathan Brown (Co-op Culture) Mon 15 Nov 2021 9:45AM

Wow. Member of both CG and NW and never heard. Would have signed. Love the idea but don't have the capacity for yet another organisation/network. I don't even have time to read another newsletter. If I read everything that dropped in my inbox I would never do any co-op development.


Graham Mon 15 Nov 2021 10:20AM

Great project. Take look at the 'Save our Bank' group - https://saveourbank.coop - comparable in many ways, and they now have a strong working dialogue with senior people at the bank. I'm also thinking about the CIU - yet another sleeping/comatose giant in the sector (I don't use the term movement these days as I feel it gives an incorrect impression).


Graham Mon 15 Nov 2021 10:21AM

I think I'm already on your list Leo - let me know about the calls.


Leo - how about promoting this and other projects on the Young Co-operators Network Loomio group? https://www.loomio.com/young-cooperators-network/


Leo Sammallahti Wed 1 Feb 2023 11:13PM

Good idea, thanks!