As a web-based organization, CGIN is rapidly turning into a seasoned veteran now, with four years of operations behind us. 2001 was a year of continued expansion of services to our members.
Some numbers about CGIN
While the numbers change almost every day, here’s a snapshot of where things stand at CGIN as we close in on the end of 2001. At this point, CGIN now has:
- 111 retail co-op members; 11 “associate” members (wholesalers, organizations, consultants, etc.)
- received scholarship contributions totaling $1,675 from members and given 19 “scholarships” to small co-ops to offer them a reduced annual fee
- posted 417 different items on our website, contributed by members for sharing with other members; 35% of these items are newsletter articles or job descriptions
- 212 deli recipes for exchange
- four different exhibits in the CGIN “photo gallery”
- 320 users subscribed to our listserve
- distributed 217 CGIN mousepads to its members
In addition, we monitor CGIN’s usage reports on a regular basis. In the two year since January 2000, when we all successfully made it through the “Y2K” madness, usage has increased as follows: number of “user sessions” per month has increased by 184% to 3,586
- number of “page views” has increased by 194% to almost 10,000/month
- average number of user sessions per day has increased by 273% to 258
- number of users who visit the CGIN site more than once per month has increased by 227% to almost 500.
We hope that we are correct in interpreting these results to mean that our members continue to find CGIN relevant and useful to the success of their co-ops.
New in 2001
We re-designed our web pages in 2001 — making them easier for users to navigate and find what they’re looking for. In the months following the launch of our re-designed pages, the average length of user sessions decreased by 40%, even though the number of users and total page views continued to increase.
Additionally, we introduced a new service this year: the CGIN photo gallery. So far, we have four exhibits on display on our site. Our deepest appreciation to Allen Seidner of Thought for Food Consulting for the exhibits he’s put together for CGIN members. We encourage any member to send in an exhibit and would especially like to see exhibits showing “before and after” photos of a remodel, a tour of your store, or any specialized theme of your choice. This year, we will also extend a “contributor’s credit” of $25 to any member that sends in at least three photo gallery exhibits.
Coming soon in 2002, we’ll put a new on-line manual on our site called “How to Start a Food Co-op.” In response to hundreds of calls from groups interested in starting a new food co-op, this manual will provide a basic overview of the steps involved and some general information about co-op membership and governance issues. Thanks to our funders for their support of this project: Howard Bowers Fund, Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation, Cooperative Grocer magazine, and The Cooperative Foundation. This manual will be publicly available to anyone interested in learning more about how to start a food co-op — both in HTML (web format) and as an Acrobat Reader file. In addition, CGIN members will be able to print out or download a copy of the file, add names of local resources and contacts, and make hard copy versions available to interested groups.
In 2001, CGIN’s total income will amount to a little over $37,500 and expenses will be about the same. We expect a break even year in 2002 as well. While CGIN continues to operate as a very lean organization financially, its balance sheet is relatively strong and its expenses can be trimmed if membership renewals do not meet projections.
Thanks and acknowledgements
In addition to our members, five groups provided sponsorship support to CGIN in 2001. Our thanks to Northeast Cooperatives, Ozark Cooperative Warehouse, Tucson Cooperative Warehouse, Blooming Prairie, NCB Development Corporation, and North Farm Warehouse for their support of CGIN.
CGIN continues to receive invaluable technical support from the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives. Matt Lewandowski remains our webmaster, while Jody Padgham and Anne Reynolds provide supervision and technical matters on CGIN’s behalf. CGIN also continues to benefit from a strong partnership with Paul Hazen and the National Cooperative Business Association. NCBA has supported CGIN since its inception and continues to be an invaluable partner in CGIN’s success.
We’re very excited about our new on-line manual, “How to Start a Food Co-op,” and hope it will help guide and support the development of new food co-ops. We’ve begun research on other new services that we hope to bring to members in 2002. In the next year, we also hope to learn more about how CGIN might be able to develop or serve as a host for on-line training programs for co-op staff, directors, and management. As usual, in June, the CGIN board will hold its third annual strategic planning session at the CCMA (Consumer Co-op Management Association) conference in Eureka, California and all members will be able to join us for our fifth annual meeting. We look forward to being a partner in helping your co-op survive and thrive in the dynamic industry and times in which we all live.