2020 Annual Report

Deepening our shared cooperative identity


The historic challenges of 2020 highlighted how co-ops can empower people to come together and meet their needs. In the past year, cooperators everywhere innovated solutions to shared crises, built more resilient communities and rooted vital infrastructure at the local level. 2020 also presented a generational opportunity to live up to our shared values of equality, equity and solidarity.

We can trace the roots of these shared values back to the Rochdale Pioneers and our current identity, values and principles to the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA)’s 1995 Statement on the Cooperative Identity. But our movement must be responsive to the economic and social realities we face. 2020 made clear how the cooperative community must take a clear-eyed look at how we can be better allies of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), and other marginalized groups. In 2019, we began working with the ICA on how best to express diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within the cooperative principles and values. This year, the global cooperative movement will reflect more deeply on our shared identity. Both the ICA’s World Cooperative Congress and NCBA CLUSA’s Co-op IMPACT Conference will meet under the theme of “Deepening Our Cooperative Identity.” These events and others will be an opportunity to understand how co-ops responded to COVID-19 and answered the universal call for racial and economic justice—and identify where more work is necessary.

One of the ways NCBA CLUSA lives out the cooperative values of equality, equity and solidarity is by building a more inclusive workplace. Acting on an assessment and recommendations from a third party in 2019, we created an internal DEI Committee tasked with creating a DEI roadmap for change for both leadership and staff. With a focus on people, systems and culture, the committee is working to address NCBA CLUSA’s organizational culture, create career pathing opportunities and diversify staffing and recruiting.

Moving forward, NCBA CLUSA will continue to build a culture that is consistent with our organizational mission and values. We’ll also keep working alongside our members, partners and policymakers to tackle the critical challenges we all face. It’s time to close the inequality gap, dismantle systemic racism and build resilience in the face of climate change. By deepening our shared cooperative identity, we can build more inclusive co-ops, more just and equitable communities and a better future for everyone—together.

Centering the cooperative experience


At the end of 2020, NCBA CLUSA closed the books with 300 members, 230 of which were cooperatives—from consumer co-ops and credit unions to worker co-ops and rural electric associations. Our three membership categories represent all sectors of the U.S. economy, making NCBA CLUSA the only cross-sector cooperative membership organization elevating the national conversation around a trusted, proven way to do business and build communities. Membership with NCBA CLUSA also connects U.S. cooperatives with a global community of more than 1.2 billion cooperators through our membership and representation in the International Cooperative Alliance.


As we sought to best support our members during an unprecedented year, we asked for your feedback through the 2020 Membership Survey. We came away with two key takeaways. First, respondents confirmed that our members continue to place high value on NCBA CLUSA’s advocacy and public awareness work—regardless of job sector or title. Membership with NCBA CLUSA puts your voice at the center of our work to educate policymakers and elevate the profile and potential of the cooperative business model. Second, NCBA CLUSA members put connecting with each other at the center of their cooperative experience. Knowledge sharing and thought leadership among members—including NCBA CLUSA’s webinars and virtual Cooperative IMPACT Conference—were essential to respondents, particularly during a year when COVID-19 limited opportunities for engagement and interaction.

In 2020, NCBA CLUSA leaned into enhanced member support, offering production services to our members for their virtual meetings and events. We were proud to provide technical support for both the Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) Conference and the National Farmer’s Cooperative Conference, along with numerous other webinars and events. We also introduced new ways members can connect with NCBA CLUSA in 2020. Our interactive Membership Scorecard provides a monthly reminder of current engagement opportunities with NCBA CLUSA to help you track your member engagement score and make the most of your membership. We also launched the #MemberMonday social media spotlight series to share and amplify your stories of connection and impact.


As we move into 2021, NCBA CLUSA will continue to be the place for cooperators who want to connect with and benefit from the collective thought, knowledge and leadership of the cooperative ecosystem. Join us as we build our membership and expand our external partnerships to enhance the NCBA CLUSA membership experience.


Membership Scorecard  #MemberMonday

Description of the Graph

NCBA CLUSA closed the books in 2020 with 300 members, 230 of which are cooperatives.

Description of the Graph

NCBA CLUSA membership represents all sectors of the U.S. economy—from consumer co-ops and credit unions to worker co-ops and rural electric associations.

Advocacy subhead


While we kicked 2020 off with a Congressional hearing on federal investment in employee ownership, our focus quickly shifted to helping co-ops navigate the economic impacts of COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, many cooperatives were ineligible for disaster assistance programs administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In response, NCBA CLUSA led advocacy efforts to eliminate these barriers. In early April, SBA extended eligibility for its Paycheck Protection Program to most cooperatives. And in May, we advocated for critical reforms to the newly established program that expanded eligibility to housing cooperatives and all nonprofits, including electric cooperatives. As regulatory guidance for both PPP and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs changed rapidly throughout the summer, and we kept members informed through regular webinars. In total, at least 3,000 co-ops accessed PPP and/or EIDL loans, which provided direct financial assistance of at least $1.2 billion. This relief helped co-ops maintain operations and support more than 1.2 million workers on their payroll and in their communities.

We also engaged with more state and local governments than ever before to support and promote investments in grassroots cooperative development. And we met with a record number of Members of Congress and agency officials in 2020—albeit virtually. Throughout the year, NCBA CLUSA’s advocacy team helped educate, differentiate and keep cooperative priorities top-of-mind before policymakers, agency officials and other stakeholders—critical work that ensures co-ops are recognized, supported in the budget and eligible for federal programs. In October, we published a report in partnership with the Urban Institute outlining policy strategies to jumpstart cooperative development and expansion. Based on findings from a series of regional Cooperative Policy Roundtables, “Policy Strategies to Build an Inclusive Economy with Cooperatives,” is part of ongoing research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Like most things in 2020, the presidential election looked very different, but the need to practice our cooperative values—including democratic participation—remained a priority. In partnership with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)’s #CoopsVote program, we helped local co-ops serve as voter registration hubs and conduits of critical voting information. We engaged with presidential candidates in the run up to November and, post election, worked closely with President Biden’s transition team to raise the co-op flag and poised cooperatives to be an integral part of major policy proposals as we entered 2021.



“We’re so proud to use the co-op identity to show that cooperatives are a community-driven, time-tested and shovel-ready policy solution to tackle many of today’s biggest challenges.” – Kate LaTour, Director of Government Relations


Cooperative Policy Strategies COVID-19 resources



In 2020, NCBA CLUSA worked to create a community of learning through our thought leadership, events and publications.


With a record 900+ registrants, the 2020 Cooperative IMPACT Conference provided an unparalleled platform to reenergize the cooperative movement and galvanize its champions around building a diverse, equitable and inclusive economy. That theme linked three tracks, more than 40 sessions and 125 speakers across five days of programming that inspired learning and action. Many of our sessions focused on the intersection of COVID-19 and the generational opportunity cooperatives have to dismantle systemic racism and injustice. Our speakers explored the path from privilege to allyship, unpacked how power dynamics can impact co-ops and shared their expertise and experience around building equitable and inclusive co-op ecosystems. Our dedicated international programming examined how co-ops responded to the global pandemic in four key areas: serving member needs as early responders; maintaining food systems; building financial resiliency in crisis situations; and using data and technology to respond to the pandemic.


We increased the value of the only national, cross-sector cooperative conference by adapting to the shifting events’ landscape and the needs and safety of our members by moving IMPACT 2020 online. As a fully virtual event for the first time, IMPACT 2020 presented a unique opportunity to bring a wider spectrum of the cooperative community together around more accessible, affordable programming—removing the barriers of participation due to travel, health, financial or time constraints.

Our Publications

Now in its fourth year, the Cooperative Business Journal continued to provide our members and the broader cooperative community with compelling content and thought leadership from new writers and contributors. Our Fall 2020 issue lifted up examples of co-ops building diversity, equity and inclusion amid crisis. Despite the challenges of 2020, cooperatives stayed resilient. They pivoted, adapted and innovated, continuing to demonstrate why the cooperative business model is better.


Meanwhile, close to 1,000 new readers subscribed to Co-op Weekly, a newsletter that reached more than 7,000 people every week in 2020 with cooperative news, events and features published by NCBA CLUSA. Also in 2020, we launched a new publication called Co-op Monthly, a roundup of stories highlighting our global programs.


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Social and economic empowerment


Despite a global pandemic, NCBA CLUSA continued its work in 2020 to ensure that people have the knowledge, resources and authority to build prosperity and well-being for themselves and future generations. As our headquarters and in-country staff shifted to telework, priorities on the ground changed, too. From Kenya to the Dominican Republic, we educated communities on health and hygiene practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and equipped them with the tools to break the chain of transmission by setting up hand-washing stations and investing in PPE. In Mozambique, we turned to text messaging and call-in radio programs to provide farmers with critical information. We also introduced crop monitoring using drones to help farmers stay one step ahead of climate change—an innovation that garnered recognition from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s SCALE Creative Adaptation Award. In Peru, we launched virtual coaching events to help coffee co-ops apply for COVID-19 relief, adapt to new pandemic standards and strengthen their sales. And in East Timor, we helped Cooperativa Café Timor navigate the pandemic to produce a larger than expected and higher quality coffee harvest in 2020. Across all our programs, reducing food insecurity due to disruptions in planting, harvesting and supply chains was top of mind.

In September, NCBA CLUSA celebrated a quarter of a century of dedicated, continuous development work in Mozambique. As one of the first international non-governmental organizations to engage in market-based development in Mozambique, NCBA CLUSA pioneered market-linked producer organizations and helped create an enabling environment for farmer associations and agricultural cooperatives—all while building local capacity. In 2020, NCBA CLUSA was proud to continue development work in the country through two new projects—Climate Smart Agriculture and Water (CSAW) Sofala and SEEDS+, a follow-on to our three-year Smallholder Effective Extension Driven Success (SEEDS) project.


In 2020, we also successfully closed two high-impact projects. The $12 million Mastercard Foundation funded-Youth Empowerment Through Agriculture (YETA) project supported youth in Uganda to develop sustainable commercial enterprises through agricultural business. NCBA CLUSA’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded Millet Business Services Project was successful in increasing the agricultural productivity of the country’s millet value chain, establishing a model for sustainable market intervention.


Also in 2020, NCBA CLUSA celebrated a decade of impact as a partner in USAID’s Feed the Future program, a whole-of-government approach to investing in food security and agricultural development that reduces hunger, malnutrition, poverty and food insecurity. Our flagship Feed the Future Program in Senegal, Kawolor, leads efforts to curb malnutrition by empowering organizations and regional partners to scale up Nutrition-Led Agriculture. Overall in 2020, our innovative approach to strengthening local food systems impacted 94,000 smallholder farmers and hundreds of member-owned businesses.


Looking forward, NCBA CLUSA will continue to improve people’s lives in tangible and sustainable ways, through the development of communities from the inside out. There are challenges ahead as the world recovers from a global pandemic and NCBA CLUSA will do its part in helping communities around the world build back in an equitable, just and sustainable way.


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Pivoting through challenge and transition


In fiscal year 2020, NCBA CLUSA made great strides to strategically
manage our financial performance through a lens of risk management.
Financial strength is critical to our ability to deliver on our promises to
members, donors, partners and other stakeholders. We were successful in
pivoting through the challenge and transition of COVID-19.


NCBA CLUSA’s fiscal year begins January 1 and ends December 31. The year-end financial results reflect $36.7 million in total revenue and net income of $317,577. The association gained $248,242 in operating income and experienced a gain in investment results of $69,335. NCBA CLUSA’s net assets without donor restrictions increased to $5.5 million, which is a 17 percent increase over 2019. The financial statements reflect stable results demonstrating continued positive operational performance.


The 2020 financial resources consist of member services and sponsored programs revenue. For 2020, NCBA’s membership dues revenue was $680,188 which is a 7 percent decrease over prior year. We continue to promote member enrollment. The sponsored program revenue was $34.8 million, which is a 15 percent decrease. The decrease in program activities is a result of entering the final phase of several programs closed in 2020. We continue to experience consistent performance in our grant and contract funding and continue to pursue new business opportunities. NCBA CLUSA expects the strong performance to continue in 2021.


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Description of the Graph

Revenue from membership dues in 2020 was $680,188 compared to $725,495 in 2019.

Description of the Graph

Revenue from grants and contracts in 2020 was $34,794,574 compared to $40,897,521 in 2019.

Description of the Graph

NCBA CLUSA's net assets grew from $355,881 in 2019 to $778,815 in 2020.

Cooperative impact


Throughout 2020, the Cooperative Development Foundation collaborated closely with NCBA CLUSA. Following up on the ABCs of Co-op Impact, a sevenfactor framework for evaluating the value cooperatives bring to communities, NCBA CLUSA and CDF  released Policy Strategies to Build a More Inclusive Economy with Cooperatives, a public policy report on strategies to develop and strengthen cooperatives based on research and findings from ten regional roundtables. In addition, the organizations produced sector specific impact analyses and case studies on consumer, farmer and small business, credit unions, utility, housing, and worker cooperativesThis work was funded by a two-year $250,000 grant to CDF from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and will serve as a basis for a broader advocacy agenda in the coming years.  


Enhancing DEI in Co-ops


With the work concluding in 2020 on the first RWJF Grant, the CDF signed a grant agreement with RWJF for a second twoyear grant to look at the ways cooperatives can use their democratic nature to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in the cooperative and the community, and look at ways cooperatives can support power building in low income and BIPOC communities. 


Expanding partnerships


In 2020 NCBA and CDF expanded their partnerships by signing an agreement with the Native American Agriculture Fund to conduct a fourday webinar in August 2021 looking at how cooperatives can be used to develop and expand Native American food systems.  

Honoring cooperators

Four remarkable cooperative leaders were inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame at a virtual ceremony on October 8, 2020. 


Ben Burkett  became an activist and cooperative organizer to gain access to markets and government programs denied to Black farmers because of ingrained racism. A 40-year, fourth generation vegetable and timber farmer from Petal, Mississippi, Ben organized neighboring farmers to sell their crops in Chicago and helped develop the Indian Springs Farmers Association.  


Everett M. Dobrinskiisa third-generation grain and oilseed farmerwho recognized at an early age the value of cooperatives in providing essential services that his family farm needed to compete in a global marketplace. A natural leader, Everett served on the board of directors of the Verendrye Electric Cooperative where he became chair in 1990. In that capacity, he was instrumental in financing a new daycare and convenience store in rural Verendrye.  


Tenured Professor of Law Carmen Huertas-Noble  spent her professional career laying the tracks for a sustainable worker cooperative sector in New York City and beyond. Known for her conviction, fortitude and determination, Carmen advocates for worker cooperatives as tools to fight income inequality and to alter traditional power and wealth dynamics. With over 15 years of experience in law, public service has been a cornerstone in Carmen’s career. As a Senior Staff Attorney in the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center, and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham University, Carmen counseled cooperatives in navigating legal entity formation options and on creating democratic governance structures. She has partnered with some of the most innovative grassroots organizations creating and supporting worker-owned cooperatives.  


Michael Mercer  is a statesman, visionary leader and distinguished supporter of the credit union and cooperative movements.  He spent his career “connecting the dots” between credit unions, cooperatives, cultures, and institutions all with the goal of improving the financial lives of working people. As the president and CEO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates for over 35 years, he championed financial products and services that meet the needs of working-class members.  For his contributions to the credit union movement, Mike was recognized as a recipient of the Herb Wegner Lifetime Achievement Award.   


Pounding the pavement for cooperatives


Nearly 500 co-ops and cooperators from coast to coast and across the pond participated in the Virtual Co-op 5k between September 29 through October 2 raising over $65,000 to support cooperative development nationwide. Participants were met with friendly competition, as they battled for bragging rights for the “Fastest Team,” “Most Team Spirit,” and “Fantastic Fundraisers.”Congratulations to our trophy winners: 

  • Fantastic Fundraisers  – NCB Sole Shakers 
  • Most Team Spirit  - The Grateful Peds from BriarPatch Food Co-op 
  • Fastest Team  – CoBank: Growing Rural America 

Description of the Graph

CDF is grateful for the support of more than 450 individuals and organizations in 2020.

Description of the Graph

Donations to the Disaster Recover Fund were used to help cooperatives and their employees weather the impact of COVID-19. With the support of the cooperative community, CDF was able to dispense resources to respond to the needs of cooperatives during a time of economic shock.  

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The CDF board in 2020 voted to accept the recommendation of the Howard Bowers Fund Board of Advisors to dissolve the Fund and transfer the assets to the CDF Cooperative Education Fund. The assets will continue to be used to support food cooperative development.

Description of the Graph

The Cooperative Education Fund supports cooperative education, development and training, event sponsorships and conference scholarships. Annually, the Fund provides $90,000 - $100,000 in grants, scholarships, and sponsorships. Over $1,000,000 has been donated in the past 10 years.


Despite a global pandemic, NCBA CLUSA continued its work in 2020 to ensure that people have the knowledge, resources and authority to build prosperity and well-being for themselves and future generations. Looking forward, NCBA CLUSA will continue to improve people’s lives in tangible and sustainable ways, through the development of communities from the inside out. There are challenges ahead as the world recovers from a global pandemic and NCBA CLUSA will do its part in helping communities around the world build back in an equitable, just and sustainable way.