We help grow the co-op economy by enabling co-ops to cooperate with each other.
Co-op Data Club is itself a co-op co-owned by three stakeholder groups:
co-ops, individuals and workers. Each elects one third of the seats in the board of directors. All members have one vote. The stakeholder groups are described below.
Any co-op can join the Coop Data Club directory. To receive voting rights in the club board elections the co-op must promote at least one other club member co-op once a year.
Anyone can join the Coop Data Club co-owned email list. To receive voting rights they must have opened most of the emails the club has sent them in the last year.
Anyone can help out with developing the club and submit a worker membership request that must be approved by each stakeholder group in a membership vote.
The Point System
We plan to implement a system by which members can earn points by supporting other co-ops. We have not yet set in stone the details of the system and would be more than happy to hear your ideas, but below is a preliminary four phase plan.
PHASE 1: Co-ops earn a point everytime they promote another co-op
There is no financial incentive: just a “Hall Of Fame” scoreboard and “Coop Of The Year” award for co-ops that have earned the most points
PHASE 2: Individuals who sign-up to the clubs co-owned email newsletter can earn points by opening emails the club sends to them
There is no financial incentive: but to become a club member with voting rights, they must have opened a certain number of emails the club has sent them. They can also provide more information about themselves if they want to – for example, where they live and what their interests are, to better connect them with co-ops they are interested in.
PHASE 3: Co-ops earn additional points by recruiting people to the clubs co-owned newsletter
These points earn them promotions in the newsletter: if they promote the newsletter, they get promoted in the newsletter.
PHASE 4: Co-ops can pay the club for promotions in the clubs co-owned newsletter
The members can choose how to distribute the earnings: such as sharing them as a dividend to members according to how many points they have earned.
OTHER POTENTIAL FUTURE IDEAS
There are countless opportunities for future directions for the club. Here are just some of the many ideas we have had: but we are most excited about getting others involved and engaged with their own ideas. As a co-op ourselves, the decisions are made democratically by the members and we encourage you to never hesitate to propose new ideas on how we can better enable cooperation between co-ops.
CO-OP AD BANNERS
Co-ops could add a banner to their website which would display advertisements from other co-ops.
REVIEWING GOODS AND SERVICES
Co-ops could use the club to send people free samples or give them a free trial of a service if they commit to answering a survey to review the product or the service.
Alongside fundraising campaigns and events, one type of promotion we want to see the club enable are coupon codes.
Ideally Coop Data Club could also act as a sort of cooperatively owned co-op coupon code site. The clubs co-owned newsletter could advertise coupon codes of co-ops to the individual members, and the more codes the member uses, the larger portion of the advertising earnings they receive as a dividend. This would be almost like a “cross-cooperative” dividend system where members could earn money (or perhaps access to more exclusive offers?) by trying out offers from many different co-ops.
RECIPROCAL PROMOTION CIRCLES
“We promote your co-op, you promote our co-op” type of arrangements. One option could be to form “promotion circles”. For example, 13 Scottish co-ops could form a “Scottish co-ops circle” by promoting one another co-op in the circle in each of their monthly newsletter until everyone in the circle has promoted everyone else after a year.
Why now? Three reasons
Coop Data Club is an idea whose time has come: it taps into into newly created and therefore underutilized opportunities to generate a competitive advantage for co-ops that would have not been possible to attain before the advent of the digital economy.
1. More co-ops are doing global crowdfunding campaigns
We have recently witnessed the first examples of cooperative crowdfunding campaigns that people can contribute to across the world with few clicks. We can play a key role in grasping these new opportunities. Because everyone in the world is just few clicks away from contributing, co-ops can do fundraising on a scale magnitudes larger anything we have seen before.
The most exciting potential for Coop Data Club will be supercharging global crowdfunding campaigns by helping them go viral across the world, as every Coop Data Club member co-op regardless of their location can share these campaigns in their email newsletters and other communication channels.
If one imagines Coop Data Club as a phonebook like directory of co-ops to ask for help, global co-op crowdfunding campaigns can call every number and therefore benefit from the club massively.
EXAMPLE: THE DRIVERS CO-OP
The recently launched Drivers Co-operative is a New York based driver owned alternative to Uber. Its ongoing fundraising campaign has raised over $1.5 million from over 1,000 investors using the crowdfunding platform WeFunder.
People outside the US can also invest. The results have been exciting – with over 4,000 driver members, it has reached larger membership than any other worker co-op in the country almost immediately after the launch.
There are hundreds of food co-ops in the US, with an average membership of 6,400. If out of the hundreds, a dozen would have mentioned Drivers Co-op campaign in their email newsletter, they could have helped Drivers Co-op reach over 75,000 more people.
This alone would provide tangible value in fundraising, but if alongside a dozen food co-ops in the US, there would be hundreds of co-ops across the world and industries promoting the campaign, it could be a game-changer for countless cooperative crowdfunding campaigns. Alongside the dozen US food co-ops there would be an email mentioning the campaign in the inboxes of members of food co-ops in Korea, wind energy co-ops in Denmark, etc.
EXAMPLE: EQUAL EXCHANGE CO-OP
Equal Exchange is a worker co-op that sells coffee, chocolate and other produce sourced directly from farmers co-ops in the global south. It has regular marketing campaigns where it promotes its goods with coupon codes.
With Co-op Data Club, they could find co-ops across the US that can help share the coupon codes in their email newsletters. Equal Exchange could find new customers, while the co-ops that promote the codes could provide the readers of their newsletter with a nice, tangible benefit.
2. More co-ops sell goods online with countrywide delivery
Whereas a conventional brick-and-mortar food co-op only benefits from being promoted in an email newsletter of co-ops near-by, such as a local credit union, increasing number of co-ops sell goods online with countrywide delivery. A co-op that sells coffee online with shipping across the country would benefit from being promoted by any or all credit unions and other co-ops in the country: not just those near-by.
3. More co-ops sell digital services online to a global userbase
In recent year, co-ops that anyone in the world can trade with regardless of location have emerged to provide digital services ranging from stock photos to video meeting tools. Because everyone in the world is just a few clicks away from joining, these co-ops have larger potential membership than previous generation of co-ops.
EXAMPLE: STOCKSY UNITED
Stocksy United is an online marketplace for royalty-free stock photography and video content. It is a co-op owned by the artists. The membership includes over 1,000 artists from over 60 countries who have generated tens of millions of dollars in earnings through the site.
CREATING A GLOBAL
Co-op Data Club resembles one of countless opportunities in building a global cooperative brand.
To illustrate what makes these opportunities unprecedented, let’s use the example of documentary films that mention cooperatives. There are already notable examples of this. For example, both Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” and Ross Ashcroft’s “Four Horsemen” have a segment specifically about worker cooperatives. The Four Horsemen has 9.4 million views on YouTube alone and Moore’s film had risen to the 16th most popular documentary film of all time just five years after its release in 2014.
However, the films provide viewers with little help on how to participate in the cooperative movement, apart from perhaps convincing some of the most inspired viewers to start a worker cooperative. On the other hand, if a documentary were to include a mention of a global online cooperative like Resonate or Coop Data Club that all or a large portion of the viewers can join by making only a few clicks, a magnitudes higher portion of the viewers will become part of the movement as a result of watching the film.
Global online cooperation removes and reduces barriers for participation for people who hear about the cooperative movement, and it creates new incentives for cross-cooperation in telling more people about the movement. For example, let’s imagine that two people, one in Barcelona and another in Warsaw watch a documentary film that mentions two restaurant co-ops, one in Barcelona and another in Delhi. Even if both are inspired by the film, only the one in Barcelona can visit one of the restaurants, and neither can visit the one in Delhi. However, if they watch a film about Resonate and Coop Data Club, both can join and start using the services of both of the cooperatives by making only a few clicks. This creates unprecedented incentives for cooperatives to cooperate on creating such films.
To illustrate this dynamic, I used the example of documentary films, but this applies to other types of content as well, including podcasts and blogs. Global online cooperatives possess unprecedented incentives to cooperate with each other on creating and sponsoring online content with a global reach. There are new exciting opportunities in building “brand”, “narrative” or “label” common to cooperatives globally. Compared to other businesses, cooperatives are in a unique position to pursue this, because they do not have to start from scratch. International Cooperative Alliance is already the largest democratic membership organisation in the world, with member cooperatives being part of the everyday life of countless ordinary people across the world. There is no ” International Shareholder Owned Business Alliance” – coop movement have massive global networks its competitors don’t, and we are now in an age where it provides unprecedented opportunities for more mutually beneficial cooperation.
However, this can be far greater than simply a “brand” that generates positive connotation in the mind of the consumer – it can revitalise one of the largest mass movements in human history that is based on making a tangible positive contribution by shaping the economic, material reality closer towards our shared ideals as moral human beings.