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Your Board

Hi, I'm Your Board

Outpost's Board of Directors will use this blog to discuss issues the board is exploring as it envisions Outpost's future. Can't make it to a meeting? Check here frequently to read what the Board is up to. Your current Outpost Board of...
Your Board

What Kind of Owner Are You

Board Beet
By Your Board on November 5, 2013

Authors Karen Zimbelman and Marilyn Scholl wrote an article for food cooperative board directors titled: The Ownership Toolbox. They tried to define members of cooperatives by level of involvement. At Outpost, we refer to our members as owners. We hope that all shoppers someday choose to expand their involvement and become owners.  They can do this by purchasing a share of the cooperative. At the same time, we hope that all owners continue to expand their participation while enjoying their ownership. How would you define yourself as an owner? Do any of these definitions of participation come close? 


Customers – people who shop at the co-op but are not members. They may or may not be aware of the membership option. They are very likely to leave the co-op should a competitor offer more convenience, better selection, or better prices.


Shopping members – share holders or people who [purchase a share] because of the economic benefits. They do not think of themselves as owners and feel no additional responsibility or loyalty. They do not perceive of a difference between the co-op and a club store. Their primary interest is "what's in it for me".


Social members – share holders or people who like belonging to the co-op, though they don’t really experience the connection as "ownership". They care about what the co-op stands for in the community, but they may not be very clear on what that is. They read the newsletter/magazine, but probably wouldn’t call to comment on an article. If asked, they will respond to a survey. They are more likely to attend a co-op [party] than a membership meeting. [They connect] with opportunities to be involved [as a response] to issues they care about.


Owner/members – people who understand that their equity is required to capitalize the co-op. They think of themselves as owners and they are interested in the governance of the co-op. They always plan to vote in elections, and occasionally they do. They feel that they should go to the annual meeting, but only rarely do so.


Active owners/members – people who are active within the co-op. They are the leaders and decision makers who serve or have served on the board or committees. They pay close attention to what the co-op does and what decisions are made. They take their ownership responsibility [to new heights]. They usually vote in elections and regularly attend co-op functions.


How would you adjust these definitions to better meet the way to describe your participation? Are you a cooperative supporter who marches to the beat of your own drum?  At Outpost, all levels of participation are appreciated and valued.  Thank you for all of your participation and support! 

– Kathy Osowski, director


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