Finance Resources for Food Co-ops

Cooperative Grocer articles:

*Many past articles covering financial resources and concepts can be located through a Library search on the present website.  On the present page are a few examples.

Balance Sheet basics:

*A good introduction, especially targeted to co-op board members, is "Balance Sheets: Getting the picture of your co-op's financial position," by Mark Goehring, which appeared in Cooperative Grocer in 2007, and is linked under Related Content at the bottom of the present page.

Accounting Best Practices (4-part series):

Authors Bruce Mayer, Peg Nolan, and Steve Wolfe provided an excellent review of recommended best practices in recording and reporting co-op finances. This 4-part series appeared in late 2011 and 2012 in Cooperative Grocer and is available as one combined pdf for free download -- this "Accounting Best Practices Primer" and its several sections are linked under Related Content at the bottom of the current page.  This series covers best practices for balance sheets, income statements, internal control, and cash management.

Cooperative Grocer 2007 survey statistics:

In “Competition Drives Co-op Improvements,” published in 2007, was the last of the periodic Cooperative Grocer surveys providing summaries of food co-op data (succeeded by CoCoFiSt services, below) and offering detailed commentary and thorough comparisons of performance measures. Download the pdf version from the link at the bottom of the present page under Related Content. The previous Retail Operations Surveys, “Strong Performance But Can We Sustain it?” appeared in 2006; the pdf version of that report also is available at the link at the bottom of the present page.

Financial Management Toolbox:

A 2002 booklet, “Financial Management Toolbox,” by Mary Courteau, is available as a pdf download at through the link provided below.

Member Equity Toolbox:

An introductory booklet, “We Own It: Member Equity Toolbox,” written in 1995 by Rob Wilson and Rob Okun, covers basic finance terms and measures, sources of capital, equity benchmarks, and financial planning.  A more in-depth “Ownership Toolbox” is also available. Both these resources are linked below.

CoCFiSt Data and Managing Key Indicators:

An extremely valuable and diverse set of tools for co-op managers and planners, CoCoFiSt (Common Cooperative Financial Statements) provides financial and operating data from participating food co-ops, enabling CoCoFiSt subscribers to compare in detail how their co-op’s performance compares to peak outcomes at other co-ops.  CoCoFiSt services, a combination of online tools and in-person workshops, are offered through CDS Consulting Co-op ( and are a product of CoopMetrics (

            CDS Consulting Co-op also offers a Margin Management workshop:  A useful review of basic margin management tools, “Managing Key Indicators: Guidelines for department managers,” by Mel Braverman, appeared in Cooperative Grocer in 2008, and is linked under Related Content at the bottom of the present page.

            “Managing Key Indicators” is also the name of another resource offering more in-depth treatment of basic retail finance. It is available in an updated (2012) workbook from CGN and the National Cooperative Grocers Association, which has made “Managing Key Indicators” part of its Retail Basics 102 training program.  Both are linked below.

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