Rufus Olins: recruiting for Member Pioneers and paying £9 million to local causes


Rufus: Hello, I’m Rufus and I’m doing the weekly update this week because Mike’s away. I want to talk to you a bit about Membership and community, because this is a landmark week for us. There are 2 big things that are happening that I’m going to tell you about.

The first is we’ve started recruiting for Member Pioneers. We launched on Friday, a big campaign so that we’ve got 50 pioneers at the Co-op in time for the AGM, and we’re building to 1,500 pioneers.

That is a huge moment for us as we reinvent our concept of pioneers from what they were in 1844 to a 21st century version, where we have someone connecting people in every community in the UK, and improving people’s lives.

So, we got off to a great start and we’ve already had, on the first day, 40 applications or expressions of interest in the role. And that’s just the beginning. The applications are open until April 10th and we want a really high calibre of committed people that have got an appetite to make their communities better. So if you know anybody, or would like to do it yourself, please don’t hesitate to go online and fill out the form. It’s a really easy process.

The second initiative I want to talk to you about is the pay out that we’re giving to local causes. On April 19th we’re going to be paying out £9 million to 4,000 local causes. It’s a huge milestone event for the Co-op and signifies a moment where the world can see that we’re moving from being about financial transactions, which are important, to really participating and supporting those causes in our local communities.

We’re doing a social media campaign, there’s going to be celebrations in every store throughout the UK, and we’ve highlighted 46 beacon stores which are really special and will be great examples of what the best really looks like. If you can go and support your local store and get a taste of what’s going on and develop a relationship with the local cause, that’s what we’d like to see so please look out for it on April 19th and do what you can to take part.

Rufus Olins
Chief Membership Officer

Publishing data on Membership

At the Co-op AGM 2016 we said that we’re going to use digital to make membership stronger and more vibrant.

Since then we’ve been engaging with members online and in their communities to give as many people a voice as possible. We shared the data we’d found around our active members once we’d defined what ‘active’ means back in August.

Part of the reason for publishing that data is to be clear on where we’re starting from. We can use these numbers to find out how much stronger and how much more vibrant the new Co-op membership is, and how engaged people are with it.

The data we collect belongs to all of us – that’s the nature of a co-operative. This is why we’ve created a Co-op Membership Data page where you can see:

  • the number of active members
  • the number of new members
  • how much our members have earned for themselves and local causes
  • how much members have spent in the core business

Screen grab of the Membership data page showing 3.92 million active members and 303,000 new members. Members have earned 9.72 million pounds worth of rewards and 26.6% of our food turnover is from our members

We’ll update the numbers every week and blog regularly about the progress we’re making.

Rufus Olins – Chief Membership Officer
Mike Bracken – Chief Digital Officer

Appointment of Chief Membership Officer

We’re delighted to let you know that Rufus Olins will be joining us in October as Chief Membership Officer. This is a new role created on the Group Executive to develop and deliver our new Membership.

With just a few weeks until we launch new Membership to our members there really couldn’t be a more important time to make sure we’re all focused on delivering an engaging, compelling and unique membership offer. Having Rufus in the team will help us achieve this.

Rufus is currently Chief Executive of Newsworks where he has been leading the transformation of that organisation into a digitally enabled membership body representing an important part of our daily lives.

Rufus has also been a senior business correspondent at the Sunday Times, Editor of Management Today and run a series of businesses.

Rufus will work closely with the Member Council to ensure that their role as guardians of Co-operative values and principles is properly reflected in our Membership activities. Russell Gill will report to Rufus, who will also take sponsorship of the Meaningful Membership programme as Alyson Chadwick transitions this into our businesses.

Rufus will have responsibility on the Group Executive for the Communications, Public Affairs and Policy activities overseen by Jon Church and Paul Gerrard, and work closely with the Marketing teams.

He will report to Mike, with a dotted-line to Richard. We’re also recruiting a Digital Membership Services Director, who will work with Rufus, and together these two roles will cover all our Membership activity beyond the governance aspects dealt with through our Group and Council Secretariats.

Welcome Rufus.

Richard Pennycook
Group Chief Executive

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer