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Eight Is Enough

August 11, 2009

The concept of a “fraternal cooperative” – an organization that would allow participating societies to reduce operating expenses and improve business operations by working on a “shared services” basis – took shape during the Presidents Section meeting earlier this year.  Since that time, two working groups of member societies have made real progress – not just talk but tangible action – toward creating pilot programs on compliance and retail banking services.  Updates on these developments will be presented at both the Presidents Section meeting and a subsequent workshop that will be held at the NFCA Annual Meeting next month in San Antonio.

One area where progress has been slower than we’d like is the “procurement initiative.”  Quite simply, this is a research project to determine the feasibility (and potential cost savings to members) of establishing a group-buying discount program for office supplies and other business materials that each of us purchases.  To be honest, this looked like the lowest hanging fruit there was for the cooperative concept.  I can’t tell you how many members have suggested such a group buying program to me over the past year.  But now that we’ve got the pieces in place to see if we can turn this from good intentions to reality, the response from members has been, well, underwhelming.

I’m looking for at least eight societies (three have signed on to date) to agree to participate in a research project that will tell us if a group buying program for office supplies can generate significant cost savings for member societies – because, unless we can determine if there’s real savings to be had, there is no reason to create such a purchasing group.  The research project entails an examination of your current procurement practices – i.e., what you purchase, how much you purchase, and what you pay for it.  It does not commit you or your society to participating in the group buying program.  You would only be helping us determine if such a program is feasible.

Are you willing to participate in this project?  It won’t take much effort on your part and the dividends to your organization and the fraternal system could be significant.  If you are, simply e-mail a note saying “count me in” to jannotti@nfcanet.org and I’ll get you all the information you need.  Also, feel free to post your comments below on these group-buying initiatives.

Joe’s Special…

Here’s a hodgepodge of items that might interest you:

  • Report of the Supreme KnightSupreme Knight Carl Anderson delivered his report to the recently concluded Knights of Columbus convention.  I watched the speech on ETWN and found it compelling, especially the sections on volunteerism and investments.  Definitely should be added to your “worth reading” list.

  • Directing Your Society's Community Service Activities – An article from a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal has some interesting implications for the fraternal system.  We are truly grassroots-based organizations, but does the myriad of projects we support at the local level dilute or enhance our effectiveness as community service providers?  We’ll be discussing this during the “Focused Fraternalism” workshop at the Annual Meeting, but feel free to share your opinions right here by posting them below.

  • Tools for Your Producers – The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education has an array of useful information your producers can use in their sales and marketing efforts.  The real-life stories of the importance of our financial services products could help you boost your sales and with both current members and prospects.  Check it out by visiting their Web site at www.lifehappens.org.