Defining Our Ends

Late last year the Board of Directors posed two questions to our member-owners and shoppers: “What do you believe is the purpose of the Belfast Co-op?” and “Who do you believe benefits from the Belfast Co-op being here?” We gathered nearly 200 responses via an online survey and from directors tabling in front of the Co-op; thank you to all who shared your valuable insights to help guide this process. The answers that you shared reflected how thoughtful, educated, and passionate our community is when it comes to the work that we do. Those questions and your answers laid the groundwork for the board of directors to delve fully into developing this policy at our spring retreat. After several iterations and much debate, the Belfast Co-op Global Ends Policy was officially approved and adopted at the June 25th meeting of the board. And (drum roll); here it is:

The Belfast Co-op exists so that our member-owners and our community will have:
A thriving, just, and sustainable local food economy
A source of healthy, affordable food
An efficiently managed, democratically governed cooperative retail store
A greater understanding of health, food systems, and economic & environmental sustainability
An invested, engaged, and empowered staff that thrive in a safe, respectful, inclusive, and equitable workplace.

What is an Ends Policy? In the Policy Governance model, the governance structure we are currently utilizing to evaluate both ourselves and our general manager, an “ends” policy refers to the overall purpose for the organization’s existence. Why does our organization exist and who benefits? This policy directly relates to the expected outcomes which the board requires of the general manager. The policy is the backbone of all operational decisions and adherence to the policy is the measure of a manager’s proficiency in their work. It is the job of the manager to interpret the Ends Policy and create procedures to strategically meet the stated outcomes for the organization. Reporting on their progress is a portion of what they submit to the board each month. It is the job of the board to continue to educate themselves about the needs and desires of the member-owners and use that information to further refine the ends.

This was a big step for your board! More than any other policy that a board develops and monitors, the Ends Policy defines the vision for the future of our co-op which the board and the worker-owners are working towards. Thank you all for your contributions to our process and for investing in the future success of your co-op!

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