Legacy is the challenge of having the thrust of your life or your organization's be perpetuated beyond an individual lifetime. Children offer this to many individuals, and we gamely try to pass our values to them. Leaders of the food co-op community must ask what we're doing to perpetuate cooperatives. Are we actively recruiting and training young people as members, staff, and directors? Do we support efforts to develop cooperatives? What will our legacy be?
A dear friend of co-ops, Kris Olsen, died in April 1998. He was an inspiration to many and the catalyst for many of the co-ops that pepper the Upper Midwest. He believed that co-ops are a great way to bring about a happier, more just world. Consistent with those values, upon Kris' death a donation was made to the Cooperative Foundation to further efforts to train the current generation of cooperators and to provide support for a new generation of leaders. Others before him have shown similar generosity, and we are all beneficiaries of their legacies.
Below are some organizations dedicated to furthering cooperatives in the U.S. Whether you choose one of these groups or some other, please consider making annual gifts to programs that support co-op growth and development. You might also include them in your estate plan. If you can't afford a donation, put some of your cash to work by investing in a co-op loan fund.
Cooperative Development Foundation
The Cooperative Foundation
Cooperative Fund of New England
Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF)
Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund
Puget Sound Development Foundation