United States Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Cooperative Service
Cooperative Information Report 21


Holding a successful annual meeting requires planning ahead, getting members to help, and then carrying out the plans. The time and place have an important bearing on the attendance. Most of the activities discussed in this publication have been found to be basic in building and maintaining sound member- ship understanding, as well as good community relations. Other activities provide variety and balance to the annual meeting program.

A well-balanced annual meeting program consists of three basic ingredients: business, information, and entertainment. It also should provide some opportunity for visiting among the members. This can be done during the meal hour or at refreshment breaks if these are included as part of the program.

Conducting the business phase includes such legal matters as nominating and electing directors, receiving management reports, and voting on Articles of Incorporation, bylaw changes, and other cooperative matters.

The information or education phase uses such techniques as illustrated talks; charts, slides, view graphs, and videotapes; panel discussions; question-and-answer periods; special speakers, and crop, livestock, and product demonstrations. Keeping members and management informed is a continual two-way process; thus the annual meeting can serve as the cooperative's major educational event.

Adding variety to the meeting may involve serving a meal or providing entertainment. Entertainment could include music or theater talent, quiz contests, films and videotapes, or motivational or humorous speakers. An important factor in getting out members is to have something of interest for the entire family. Activities that make members feel welcome will help to ensure their continued attendance.

Numerous devices can be used to announce and publicize the annual meeting. Among these are official notices, correspondence reminders, posters, newspaper articles, radio and television announcements, and word-of-mouth publicity. If the cooperative mails billing statements on a monthly basis, this is an economical source for a formal annual meeting notice.

Once the details are carefully planned and delegated, the actual staging of the meeting is much simpler.

The presiding officer should keep the meeting moving, preside with fairness and impartiality, maintain parliamentary order, and encourage questions and comments from the members. A detailed step-by-step program is helpful for guidance. (See Appendix C.)

Post meeting activities should include preparing newspaper stories, a followup message to the members, thank-you letters to those who helped, and a frank appraisal of the meeting as a guide to the future. Planning for the next meeting should begin immediately.

Organizing and Conducting Cooperatives' Annual Meeting

The annual meeting is the highlight of a cooperative's year. It is the time when management gives an accounting to members and when members-as joint owners-express their views to the manager, directors, and employees. Summed up, the annual meeting is- and should be viewed as-the major cooperative educational event of the year.

Cooperative bylaws require an annual meeting. Every manager and director wants a good one. Successful meetings don't just happen but must be planned and executed in detail. When this is accomplished, the annual meeting program can be important in stimulating goodwill and building member- ship understanding.

This report offers helpful suggestions to cooperative managers and others responsible for annual meetings. It is directed primarily to associations that operate locally and that invite the entire membership to the meeting. Many suggestions, however, will also be useful to regional organizations whose annual meetings are attended by delegates.

A cooperative's annual meeting can range from being a routine formality to being a lively and memorable event. It may require a frantic last minute scurry to round up a quo- rum, or to locate enough chairs to accommodate the crowd. The kind of meeting that develops is almost entirely in the hands of the board of directors, the manager, and employees.

If the annual meeting is held simply to comply with the bylaws, there is little chance of its being anything but drab and monotonous. If it is held in the proper cooperative spirit as a yearly occasion when members and officers get together to discuss operations and future plans, results can be rewarding.

Cooperative Information Report 21
Issued in 1967 as Educational Circular 32; revised in 1979 as CR 21; revised in June 1992