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NFPs Offered Free Tools to Help Form Into Co-Ops


4 September 2018 at 5:18 pm
Maggie Coggan
Not for profits are being offered free resources to help them form into co-ops, which a sector leader believes will enable charities to further their social impact.


Maggie Coggan | 4 September 2018 at 5:18 pm


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NFPs Offered Free Tools to Help Form Into Co-Ops
4 September 2018 at 5:18 pm

Not for profits are being offered free resources to help them form into co-ops, which a sector leader believes will enable charities to further their social impact.

Launched as part of the $14 billion federal Farming Together Program, these resources include tools to help NFPs develop a constitution and a disclosure statement.

The tools were developed in collaboration with the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), which said the typical cooperative model used by NFPs was called a non distributing cooperative.  

BCCM CEO, Melina Morrison, told Pro Bono News there was an added benefit of setting up an NFP as a co-op because of the “powerful engagement model” of having members as as part of your community.

“It gives you the ability to have an organisation that is structured for a social purpose but you get very strong engagement with the community that you’re serving, because they all identify as members of the co-operative.”  

Despite the tools initially being created to assist agricultural producers form into co-ops, BCCM found there was a demand from communities who wanted to set up NFP co-ops in the area of agriculture as well.  

“We responded to that demand by by creating more builders on the Farming Together site, to cater for all sorts of different community ventures,” Morrison said.

She said “it was really important to know” the tools could be used for co-ops outside of the agriculture industry, and applied to any kind of community group wanting to make a difference through a NFP co-op.

“Whether you’re a community coming together to set up a renewable energy, or affordable housing, the same business structure applies regardless of what industry sector you’re talking about.”

A spokesperson from Farming Together said there had been a range of non-farming groups that had already used the online tools, including “management leadership, fabric and scrap-metal recycling, massage and environmental justice groups”.

Farming Together’s program director Lorraine Gordon said: “Nationally, over the past year, we have seen more co-ops fully registered using these tools than total Australian registrations in the previous five years, with 57 new co-ops forming or fully registered through the program.

“These resources are a simple tool to help people develop their registration documents, at a significant time and cost saving.”

Morrison said their main aim going forward, was to see the tools on the Farming Together website made “available more generically”, and to show NFPs that a co-op model was an option to consider.   

“If you’re a NFP and want to stay connected to its community in a very empowered and meaningful way then the cooperative is a really good model to choose,” she said.

“It’s not the only model but we want charities and not for profits to know that the model exists and it might be a preferred way to run the organisation depending on what its objectives are.”


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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