October is National Cooperative Month. Since 1930, Cooperative Month has celebrated the fact that cooperatives are different and make a difference in the community because of their businesses model defined by seven cooperative principles:
Voluntary and Open Membership
Democratic Member Control
Member’s Economic Participation
Education, Training, and Information
Cooperation among Cooperatives
Commitment to Community
This year’s theme highlights trust and member service and characterizes the cooperative difference.
As you look for ways to make your observance of Cooperative Month and International Credit Union Day (Oct. 21) a memorable success, here are 12 ideas that can help.
- Make your members feel like owners. Host an Owners’ Day Party.
- Review and closely examine the definition of a cooperative. Understand the meaning of the business model it describes. Ask yourself what makes your organization a co-op?
- Have a meeting with staff to identify the Seven Cooperative Principles and evaluate how your organization embraces each one. Are they posted publicly for all to see?
- Invite the local business reporter to the credit union to meet and greet the staff and your members. This is a great way to help the reporter develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for credit unions and the cooperative difference.
- Participate in the International Credit Union Day webcast, Celebrating Our Cooperative Heritage. It is scheduled for October 21 at . Encourage your board and executive staff to view the interactive discussion. Registration to participate opens soon at www.woccu.org.
- Develop special messaging to your members talking about co-ops, the cooperative difference, and what co-ops stand for in the community. Display the messages in your lobby, in electronic statements, in your mobile banking application, on your credit union’s website, and on your social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.
- Sponsor an art competition for youngsters of the credit union asking them to draw a picture of a cooperative. Publicly post the images in your lobby and your website. Offer awards to the best drawings.
- Leverage your relationships at the local chamber of commerce or rotary club to serve as a presenter during the month of October to talk about the cooperative business model and the values and principles on which it is built. As part of this community education effort, talk about your credit union as one of the many organizations built on that model.
- Sponsor an essay contest in collaboration with the local high school. Offer a grand prize of $1,000. Make the essay topic: How cooperatives and their distinct business model deliver better value to the American consumer.
- Host an open house of your credit union. Roll out the red carpet and invite folks from the community to stop in and have a coffee, have a donut and find out what a credit union is all about. Include a local radio station to broadcast LIVE from the credit union branch to further attract public participation in the open house. And don’t forget to invite the public to bring along cans of food for donation to the local food bank!
- Cooperate with other co-ops in your community to create an organized referral effort where each cooperative helps to promote awareness of one another.
- Organize a community day where the staff of your credit union goes into the community to help low-income and underserved families do repair work, painting and cleaning on their homes. Invite your members to join with staff, shoulder-to-shoulder in providing these services on Community Day as a way to mark National Cooperative Month—People Helping People.
Also be sure to plan your Co-op Month activities during the week of October 17 - 23 to help create a nationwide cooperative awareness week. And, don’t forget to make use of informational resources and prepared materials available from:
Credit Union National Association—CUNA
The National Cooperative Grocers Association—NCGA
The National Cooperative Business Association—NCBA
The International Cooperative
— Alliance ICA