Small Steps Toward Member Linkage Yield Big Results
Alison Kolesar is the board president at Wild Oats Market in Williamstown, Mass. She said that sometimes their board felt dissatisfied that they were not connecting with their members the way they’d like to. But did they have to put in a lot of time to make something work? It turns out the best approach was a lot easier and simpler than they thought.
They decided what they needed to do, first and foremost, was to make the board itself more visible to members. They put up photos of themselves in the store so members could actually see the people who are governing their store, as well as know the co-op has an active board of directors.
The board also began doing a regular column in the bimonthly newsletter reporting on their activities and educating members about the board’s role in the co-op. “For example, we talked about the appropriate level of Wild Oats advocacy in the community,” Kolesar said. “Later we wrote about what the board does before the annual meeting, and then after it, we reported on the meeting and engaging the members there about the co-op’s growth,” she said. The board also tabled during the co-op’s Member Appreciation Day. They asked people to vote on their favorite Co-op Principle. “We had a lot of conversations. It was a fun thing to attract people to our table,” she said.
Kolesar said all of these activities are laying the groundwork for further member engagement as the co-op considers a potential expansion. “We want to keep having a presence,” she said. “We see it as a good start.”