Member Spotlight: Calgary Co-operative Memorial Society – 2019 AGM Review

Published on February 20, 2019 by Will McGlynn

Superb member engagement and an example of co-op democracy at its finest with over 200 people attending CCMS’ Annual General Meeting in January.

It’s that time of year where our member co-operatives rally the troops and exercise the inherently co-operative value of democracy. We all know Annual General Meeting’s (AGM) can occasionally be dour and serious (for good reason), however not for ACCA member Calgary Co-operative Memorial Society (CCMS). Their AGM was a sign of superb member engagement with over 200 of their members heading down to the Kerby Centre on a bright, mild January weekend to exercise their co-operative democracy and catch some delicious refreshments! 

CCMS, who provide affordable funeral planning to its members across Southern Alberta, had a fantastic 2018. Board chair Terry Geib outlined the significant progress made on updating their website with fresh information and efforts to improve board governance; where the board of directors attended a two-day governance course and created a new board manual.  

We all know that changing the status quo – and change at the best of times – can be a stressful and sensitive matter, particularly when it comes to membership associations. Therefore, their implementation of a transformative new membership management system last fall is commendable. Terry walked members through the updates that enable online membership transactions, permit online membership purchases and will simplify member communications in 2019. 

It was equally a landmark day for long-serving Treasurer Roy Goodall, who thanked members for their support and expressed his enjoyment at serving the members of CCMS upon retiring from the board of directors. His final acts included announcing a healthy financial picture in 2018, bringing on board a new bookkeeper in 2018, and updating members on a new financial reporting procedure. By embracing modern accounting software, the societies’ financial position will become easier for members and directors to understand and help achieve Roy’s belief that “CCMS will go forward as a very successful society” in the future. 

Such a future includes the continuation of the co-operative working co-operatively with the community. Following CCMS’ $1,000 donation, an innovative community partnership between financial co-operative Servus Credit Union, Calgary Centre for Newcomers and the Calgary Zoo sprung into action last summer. Local branch manager Marlene Mullinger explained to attendees how the credit union matched the donation and distributed former zoo wagons filled with essential supplies and canned goods to families in need across the city. 

Before the meeting concluded with a keynote, members grilled directors and representatives from service provider McInnis and Holloway on the differences between a memorial society and a funeral co-operative, expenditure plans for financial reserves, pre-paid funeral arrangements and the benefits of people in their 40’s buying into a funeral plan now as opposed to in 20 years time. 

With key service contracts coming up for renewal soon, new directors to onboard and the on-the-day membership desk swamped with new member applications, it is shaping up to be another successful year for CCMS.