Annual Report 2006

2006 YEAR IN REVIEW

2007 will be CGIN’s 10th anniversary, which has inspired us to reflect on what we’ve been able to accomplish as we close in on a decade of operations.

CGIN’s success to date is a strong statement of our members’ truly generous natures and your tirelessly cooperative spirits. Without a doubt, we would not be where we are today – with an increasingly comprehensive and ever-expanding library of resources, more and more self-generated content (e.g. “How to Start a Food Co-op” manual, the Livable Wage model, and some upcoming legal white papers), photo exhibits, deli recipes, training materials, three lively listserves, a web discussion board, and countless other resources on our site. None of this would have been possible without the continued contributions of our member co-ops and their staff.

For those of you who like numbers, as of the end of 2006, CGIN has:

  • 138 retail co-op members – up from 100 in 2001
  • over 1,275 different items in our “basic resource library” – up from 1,000 last year and 348 five years ago
  • seen continued growth in the use of our site, as measured by “page views” per month – up an average of 84% over last year for the past 12 months and at least 360% from four years ago
  • 46 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 210 different “user sessions” each day – up from 90 a year ago and 46 four years ago
  • 421 subscribers to our “main” listserve, 112 subscribers to the “M&M” specialized listserve, and 71 participants in the listserve for HR managers
  • approximately 4,720 different individuals who use the site each month – up from 1,000 four years ago

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 2006

We were also really pleased to work with Carolee Colter this past year in a major upgrade to the CGIN “Livable Wage” model. We had a great task force of HR and general managers who helped with the process: Michele Buchanan (New Leaf Market), Crystal Halvorson (Menomonie Market), Kari Kaminski (Outpost Natural Foods Co-op), and Sharret Rose (La Montañita Co-op). Since the original Cooperative Livable Wage Model was developed in 2003, we’ve been collecting feedback and updating the model and tools in small ways each year. However, for 2006, we felt it was time for an “upgrade” to the whole model and a close review of how all aspects of the model work in practice. The CGIN Livable Wage model, version 2.0, is now available online.

CGIN also helped coordinate a tour of the MidCounties Co-op, headquartered in Oxford, England, to better understand the important work they are doing on co-op branding and messaging. Our group included participants from CGIN and NCGA, as well as Paul Hazen from the NCBA, and was of great inspiration to all involved.

And, of course, we continue to try to build improvements to our site to make it easier and more useful for members. In 2006, we:

  • finalized our online job posting system so users can post, edit, and remove their own job notices directly, including an e-mail notification service for those looking for co-op jobs
  • added contributor profiles to our system, so users can better understand the operational context and scope of those who contributed materials to the site
  • refined the index of materials in our basic resources library – to add more sub-topic and even “sub-sub-topic” areas to make it easier for users to find items
  • upgraded the M&M and HR listserves to new software
  • updated the web discussion board that we host for NCGA to facilitate discussion about their new national supply agreement among NCGA members

Coming in 2007

For our site, we’ll soon add the capacity for members to be able to submit items to the site online. This will eliminate e-mails to the CGIN office and will help streamline the process of posting new items for sharing. When you’re ready to submit new items, you’ll be able to do so directly by going to post a new item form . We hope this continues to make it easier and easier for contributors to send in items. We also are looking forward to upgrading the CGIN-list (open forum) listserve, as well as working with the Food Co-op 500 project on ways that CGIN can support new co-op development efforts.

After a very exciting and visionary planning retreat last June, CGIN has now developed an ambitious, three-year plan that identifies how CGIN can more fully realize its potential. This is an exciting time for CGIN; your organization is well poised to build its ability to contribute in even more ways to the success of food co-ops.

This plan makes it clear that CGIN’s potential far exceeds its current capacity, given its limited resources in terms of annual budget and staffing. Accordingly, I will be passing the baton for CGIN management on to a new contractor in 2007. We’ll be soliciting proposals to keep up CGIN’s great work and expand its scope. As an organization, CGIN’s foundation is solid and this is a great time for CGIN to move into the hands of someone who can devote more to its success and transformation.

Finances

2006’s financial performance is part of how we have the ability to look to a new future for CGIN. Total income of $55,500 is up slightly from 2005 revenue of $49,500. Expenses will probably total about $40,000 by year-end. Once again, we benefited from membership renewals, usage fees, and interest rates that exceeded projections. In 2007, we will dip into our accumulated reserves – using ~$10,000-15,000 – for this timely investment in CGIN’s future.

Thanks and acknowledgements

CGIN is fortunate to have eight sponsors for our site. Our continued thanks to Albert’s Organics, Cooperative Development Services, Frontier Natural Products Co-op, Hershey Import Company, the NCBDC, CROPP/Organic Valley, Ozark Cooperative Warehouse, and United Natural Foods for their support. 2006 also marks nine years of a continued partnership between CGIN and the National Cooperative Business Association . Thanks to Paul Hazen and NCBA for their unflagging support and collaboration.

We look forward to working with our members in this coming year to revitalize CGIN and help it more fully realize the great potential this organization has to strengthen the benefits of local, community owned co-ops.