Use the filters on the left to narrow your selections by development stage or project. You may select multiple categories and subcategories, but it may get cluttered. Use the Clear Filters button to refresh and start a new filtering. You can also use the Search feature, above.

Development Checklist

The Development Checklist for Startup Food Co-ops is an easy reference to the tasks that must be completed in each stage of your co-op’s progress toward opening.

La Guia De FCI Para Iniciar Una Cooperativa De Alimentos

La Guia De FCI Para Iniciar Una Cooperativa De Alimentos

Esta publicación ha sido un esfuerzo cooperativo entre todas las personas que se esfuerzan por construir la economía cooperativa compartiendo nuestro conocimiento y experiencia.

Startup Co-op Feasibility Assessment Survey

Wondering if all your hard work will pay off? This feasibility assessment survey will help your board analyze your co-op’s strengths and weaknesses and evaluate the likelihood of future success.

The survey can be done individually by all board members before compiling the results and discussing them as a group. Alternately, the entire board could set aside time to go through the survey as a group and come up with a combined assessment. An outside facilitator or professional co-op adviser can lead your group through the discussion to help ensure that you get the most out of this exercise.

Once you have completed all the questions in the survey, we recommend that you share them with FCI advisers for feedback. It can be difficult to remain objective about your own work and an outside perspective will help ensure that your assessments are valid. We can also recommend ways to address any concerns that arise.

Click here to go to the Assessment Survey!

Please let us know if you are using this survey tool!

You’ve Got Your Market Study– Now What?

Market Study Action Guide

As a startup food co-op organizing team, you’ve been looking forward to this day for a
long time. Finally, you’ve had your market study done and the results are in! Soon after
receiving them, many startup boards find themselves wondering what they should do
with the data and how to share it with owners. In this overview piece, we’ll talk about
how to get the most out of this big, important milestone you’ve just reached.

Download your free copy here!

Users’ Guide to the Sources & Uses Budget

A Sources and Uses budget (S&U) is one of the most important business planning tools that a startup co-op will use. The primary purpose of the S&U is to ensure that co-op organizers know how much money will be needed to open their storefront and where that money will come from. As long as your combined capital from all sources equals (or exceeds!) the expenses you will incur to open the store and provide necessary operating capital, you should be able to get a food co-op open. This guide will walk you through all the pieces that make up the budget and explain their importance.

The FCI Guide to Starting a Food Co-op – download

Our comprehensive guide for groups starting a retail food co-op, with steps, case studies, templates, and more for every stage from organizing to implementation. NOTE: This FREE DOWNLOAD will automatically load to your default download site when you click on it.

The FCI Guide to Starting a Food Co-op – hard copy

This is our comprehensive guide for communities who want to start their own retail food co-op. We walk you through all the stages from creating a vision to opening the doors.

Capital Campaign Workbook – free download

Click for free download: The guide to raising member capital for retail food co-ops. Updated March 5, 2017.  See the Member Equity Toolbox for planning and starting your ownership recruitment.

Capital Campaign Workbook – hard copy

This guide will help food co-op organizers plan an effective campaign to raise the money they need to open their co-op. We explain how to plan for loans and preferred shares from owners and the legal requirements for securities.
Purchase a copy here.

Green Top Grocery Capital Campaign Case Study

The link to find all three webinars and extensive supporting examples and materials from the highest startup capital campaign we have seen.

Cooperatives and the US Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has opened its’ doors to working with startup cooperative businesses. This is exciting news as it makes several of the SBA resources available to co-ops now. There remains an obstacle  for cooperatives in meeting the requirement of a loan guarantor.  Discussions on that front continue between the SBA and cooperative leaders. Learn more here.

Legal Primer

Must read – incorporation, articles and by-laws, membership, equity, liability, patronage,  more.

Sources & Uses Budget Template

The Sources & Uses budget is an essential tool for planning the capital needed to start your co-op. How much will it cost? What expenses do you need to plan for? Where will the money come from? This template is designed to allow you to develop your budget using established benchmarks and averages. Click to Download Template: Template updated February 2020.

Capital Campaigns: One Co-op Opts for Direct Public Offering, part 1

From Urban Greens Food Co-opa three part discussion about why, and how, they decided to do a DPO instead of an Owner Loan Campaign.

Quick Tips: Why Does Opening a Co-op Take So Long?

It’s the question ALL startups ask.  It is a tough one potential owners puzzle over. We talk about it on the FAQ page. In this short video, FCI’s Jacqueline Hannah has some super answers.  A great tool for startups and their targeted supporters.

Legal Issues in Stage 2

Featuring volunteer labor, capital & equity, hiring staff, more.  With Thane Joyal & Ben Sandel of CDS Consulting Co-op

Your Best Meeting Ever

This webinar shows you how to use timing, materials, agendas, and other preparation to pull off a great meeting every time.

Vision Cornerstone Video Series

This four-part video series provides a deep dive on the Vision Cornerstone of the 4-in-3 development model.

Creating a Vision

Excellent video to help startups understand the process of creating a shared vision.

Interest Survey Template and Manual

Download this comprehensive guide to using servery to learn about the needs and interest in your community, then check out the survey template you can use for your own survey.

Member Equity Toolbox

What is  a membership/ownership program? How many owners do we need? How do we set our ownership investment level? Learn about the steps needed to start recruiting owners, and how to grow your ownership level.  See the Capital Campaign Workbook for owner loan campaigns.

Ownership Growth: A Numbers Game

Tracking your potential members and building creative promotions  ideas from an experienced outreach manager.

Volunteer Recruitment and Retention

Insights on getting and keeping great volunteers from Bonnie Hudspeth, one of the founders of Monadnock Food Co-op, and member program manager for NFCA.

Setting Ownership Goals

Growing your owner base is critical. Ownership levels help determine when you do studies, a capital campaign, and open your doors. Click here to learn how to set the right goals.

Marketing for Membership

Marketing and ownership recruitment go hand-in-hand. Use your brand, logo, and materials effectively.

Love Those Lawn Signs!

Lawn signs, yard signs—anyway you look at them, these colorful signs honor your owners while showing the whole community that the co-op is coming.

Stop Rolling the Dice With Membership

This webinar discusses how to strategize and prioritize your plans  to build membership through all three stages of food co-op development.

Up & Coming videos

View selected workshops that were recorded at past conferences.

Effective Boards and Teams I

Webinar that helps boards and teams build structure and accountability.

Effective Boards and Teams II

Webinar that helps boards and teams with team-work, process, and decision-making..

Development Flowcharts By Stage

Download to assist in your 4 in 3 planning. A graphical flowchart for each stage, and an over-sized one for your planning wall.

NCGA and the Development Cooperative

A webinar discussion about National Co+op Grocers (formerly NCGA.)  Hear how it works, how it supports members, is it right for your co-op.

Insurance 101 for Food Co-ops

Dane Meisler of Kapatoes Insurance Services discusses the insurance needs of health food stores and retail food co-ops at all stages—from startup to store opening.

Taxes and Accounting for Co-ops

Webinar features a CPA sharing tax and financial record requirements and best practices for startups and newly opened co-ops.

Sample Chart of Accounts

Click to download: Excel Spreadsheet CoCoCOA – Sample Chart of Accounts from CoMetrics

River Valley Market: A Startup Case Study

This webinar reviews the startup  steps of  River Valley Co-op in Northampton, MA, which opened in June 2009.

Why Some Co-ops Fail

Cooperative Grocer Magazine article by Stuart Reid in May-June 2016.

Directories of Open Co-ops

Three sites that list open co-ops, as well as some startups.

Feasibility FAQ & Checklists

Info you need to evaluate the feasibility of your plans and gather the information you will need to move forward. Does not replace a feasibility study.

Mentoring Can Make All the Difference

Established Co-ops Helping Startups: Cooperative Grocer Magazine article by Jacqueline Hannah in March-April 2016.

Co-op as Hero: Storytelling for Startups

If heroes are known by the things they do in pursuit of a noble purpose, then your co-op is definitely a heroic force. Learn frameworks and strategies to super-charge your co-op’s story into a narrative with passion, energy, and a shared sense of purpose within your co-op’s community.

Store Size: The Goldilocks Solution

This webinar explains how to right-size your co-op to ensure you serve your community’s needs, create a sustainable income stream, and have a maximum impact on your mission.

Branding Stage 2: organizing & building relationships

From our Branding Time Three series: We have a brand, now how do we use it to grow ownership?

Real Estate Guide

The best location and a great store design are critical for food co-ops. Guide covers the time frame from concept design through securing the site. Check out this free download.

What is a Feasibility Study Anyway?

What are market and feasibility studies? When should co-ops have them done? This webinar discusses everything you want to know.

Sample Project Manager Job Description

Click to download this handout companion to the video An Insider’s Look at Project Management.

Just Food Development Timeline

Click  to download the PDF.  An example of the actual planning and implementation process from a successful start-up

An Insiders Look at Project Management

Learn how your co-op can jump start its development with project management. Hear from a project manager who helped her co-op get a successful start, and about the board’s responsibilities as an employer.

A Tale of Two Co-ops

Cooperative Grocer Magazine article featuring East Aurora and Bisman food co-ops,  by Stuart Reid in Sept-Oct 2016.

DataBasics: Data Needs for Startup Co ops

In this webinar we look at tools and technologies available to help co-ops manage data: member-owners, capital campaigns, volunteers, and more.

Policy Templates for Startups

Comprehensive set of board policies designed specifically for startup co-ops. Includes suggested board agreements and policies for each stage of organizing, along with committee charters.

Developing a Budget For a Food Cooperative

Budget planning begins early in the startup process, and continues through every stage. Get a good start.

Bringing Grocery Stores to Low-Income Urban Food Deserts

Cooperative Grocer Magazine article by Mary Stennes Wilbourn in Nov-Dec 2015..

Intro to Food Co-op Finance

Jump start your food co-op financial learning curve with this video presentation.

Monadnock Food Co-op: Case Study

From organizing to opening the store–practical insights for all stages.

Startup Business Plan Example

A sample business plan from Friendly CIty, a successful co-op that opened in 2011.

Startup Support Chart

Shows how startups interact with FCI, but also CDS Consulting Co-op, National Co+op Grocers and NCG’s Development Co-op.

Shifting Gears to Governance

Board roles shift when staff comes aboard to take on daily tasks an operations. Hear from experts about smooth transitions in broad roles.

Hub City Marketing Plan

Hub City Co-op’s comprehensive marketing plan for their Implementation Stage, raising investment and membership funds from the community.

Timelines for Members

Easy-to-share timeline based on membership goals rather than fixed dates. Article, examples, and template.