Annual Report 2005

2005 YEAR IN REVIEW

We know it’s not all about the numbers. But quantitative measures are, nonetheless, at least one measure of whether CGIN continues to be a valued and useful resource to our members. And, they say a lot about how CGIN has grown and developed over its eight years of operations.

Consider that as of the end of 2005, CGIN has:

  • 137 retail co-op members – up from 120 a year ago and 98 five years ago
  • over 1,000 different items in our “basic resource library” – up from 800 last year and 268 five years ago – thanks to a late year surge of contributions from many members!
  • seen an increase in “page views” per month of 67% from a year ago and 172% from four years ago (as far back as we have comparable data) – now at about 28,000 per month
  • 31 different exhibits in the CGIN “photo gallery” – which was just started in 2001 and had four exhibits at the end of that year
  • hosts about 90 different “user sessions” each day – up from 83 a year ago and 44 four years ago
  • 415 subscribers to our “main” listserve, 99 subscribers to the “M&M” specialized listserve for marketing and membership staff, and 56 participants in the new listserve for HR managers
  • approximately 1,900 different individuals who use the site each month – up from 1,000 four years ago
  • We couldn’t have made this kind of progress without the steady, generous support of CGIN’s members. Thanks so much to all of you who have taken the time to participate in CGIN’s listserves, send in items, and who use the site when you need resources, ideas, and materials.

Highlights from 2005

first goal when making changes to our website or adding services is to make the site easier or more useful for those working to build strong, locally owned co-ops. In addition, we try to make changes that help streamline CGIN’s operations so we can continue to operate with a minimum of overhead and staff.

Perhaps our most visible accomplishment in 2005 was actually completing the changes to our site so that co-op directors (board members) can now access a portion of the site and the resources relevant to their jobs. The items accessible to directors include all board policies, sample general manager job descriptions, contract, and evaluation forms, CCMA workshop materials, and all items related to membership systems and co-op governance. We know that many directors very much appreciate having a place to exchange and review each other’s samples and that this change has probably been a factor in the increase we’ve seen in site usage.

Another improvement to our site is our automated job postings system. Anyone can now go onto our site and submit information for a job posting directly to the site. This information now simply goes through a simple approval process – so we can ensure that nothing inappropriate or problematic gets posted to the site. But it is then directly posted to the site without having to wait for our webmaster to format and update the page. Simple to use and faster results!

To make our system easier for users, we also automated all functions related to managing passwords. Members can now retrieve passwords automatically. And all aspects of password maintenance are fully automated. Members are still required to change passwords at least twice a year; we appreciate your cooperation so that we can maintain reasonable security for our site through turnover.

Behind the scenes

As most members are aware, a lot happens behind the wizard’s curtain for any organization to operate smoothly and make improvements. Almost all of how the site operates is now built on databases, so users can find items more easily, can refer to other items by a member contributor with one click, and so all functions related to membership are more streamlined. While these changes are largely invisible to users, they’ve helped us expand services (such as the new job postings pages) and will help us continue to add functionality.

At its annual planning retreat last June, the CGIN board took a critical look at CGIN’s future and role in the food co-op system. Our discussions considered the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of remaining independent or merging operations with other groups. Through that conversation, the board decided that all options remain open for future contracts or mergers to best meet CGIN members’ needs and that it’s best for CGIN to remain independent at this time. While some may feel a merger with NCGA could be advantageous, the board is concerned about the many CGIN members that aren’t NCGA members or unable to be served by NCGA. CGIN helps ad vance cooperation among co-ops with those members and isn’t limited by its structure at this point.

Finances

2005 will also add to CGIN’s financial resources. Total income of $49,500 is up slightly from 2004’s revenue of $47,000. Expenses will probably total about $36,000 by year-end. Once again, we benefited from membership renewals, usage fees, and interest rates that exceeded projections. Our 2006 budget projects a breakeven year but the strength of CGIN’s balance sheet now provides a nice cushion that we can use if membership renewals don’t meet projections.

Thanks and acknowledgements

CGIN is fortunate to haveeight sponsors for our site. Our continued thanks to Albert’s Organics, Cooperative Development Services, Frontier Natural Products Co-op, Hershey Import Company, the National Cooperative Bank Development Corporation, CROPP/Organic Valley, Ozark Cooperative Warehouse, and United Natural Foods for their support of CGIN.

And the close of 2005 marks eight years of a continued partnership between CGIN and the National Cooperative Business Association. NCBA’s support and collaboration has been key to CGIN’s continued growth and success. Thanks to Paul Hazen and NCBA’s great staff.

Looking ahead

We’ll be conducting a major overhaul of the CGIN Livable Wage model in 2006. A lot has changed since we first worked with Carolee Colter to develop our model and it’s time to do more than update links and make minor changes. We’ll involve a task force of users and HR managers to bring improvements to the model. We’ll also be adding a “contributor profile” function to our site so users can easily learn more about the scope and status of a contributor’s opera tions to better judge the applicability of their materials to the user’s situation.

We continue to be inspired and excited by the possibilities for services through CGIN that can help minimize the disadvantages of independent retail operations and that can help strengthen the benefits of local, community owner ship. We look forward to continuing to be a partner in helping strengthen and support your co-op in all ways that we can.