Driven by People, Not Profits.
Being a member of, and having now worked for my third BC co-op, I’ve noticed some common misperceptions of what co-ops “are”. And it’s easy to see why. Amongst a whole gamut of unique benefits arising from the co-operative business model – as part of its DNA, it would seem – they tend to be very good corporate citizens. Modo, of course, is no exception. But contrary to popular belief, Modo isn’t a non-profit. Nor a charity, or a community service. Modo is a member-owned, co-operative business. We’re driven by people, not profits. In its simplest form, Modo exists to serve the carsharing needs of its members, not maximize profits.
We care about our members and our communities. But first and foremost, we care about providing the best carsharing experience possible. That means investing in our fleet of vehicles, technology and our people – ensuring we provide our members with the right car for their needs, when and where they need it, and at a fair price.
Another thing that makes co-ops unique is the fact that our members own the business. Unlike most corporations, there’s no single owner or group of shareholders at the top making it big. We like that. However, it also means that as a small, lean business, we need to be even more diligent about the investments we make outside of our immediate business. After all, it’s our members’ dollars – your dollars – and we have a responsibility to use it wisely.
As you might imagine, we get hundreds of request for community funding and support. In fact, dozens cross our desks every week and it’s been hard saying “no”. Really hard – so we haven’t. For years we’ve been supporting all kinds of worthy groups and causes, and while it’s been incredibly rewarding work that’s had a positive impact on our communities, it’s also coming at a cost to our business. Most notably, it’s starting to impede our focus on the heart of our business: serving the carsharing needs of our members.
We’ve taken a hard look at our community sponsorship program and have decided to make some changes for the long-term betterment of our business and the ultimate needs of our members. Instead of supporting upwards of 75 different community groups a year – with limited amounts of resources – we will focus on making a bigger impact within specific categories. Our areas of focus will be where we have a high penetration of members, a high propensity of carshare users, or early-adopters who’ve helped Modo get off the ground in its early days. With input from our members, we’ll be supporting one to two signature events each year in the following communities: Sustainable Transportation, Arts & Culture, and LGBTQ (that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer, for those who’ve ask us what this means in the past!). Beyond these signature events, we’re also developing a program for organizations that fall within these categories to apply for and earn carsharing credits to help support their operations.
This shift (in tandem with considerable support of the co-op and carsharing sectors) will allow us to better focus our efforts and maximize investments made in our fleet, technology and people – while continuing to support our communities in a way that aligns with both the needs of our business and our values. And with nearly two-thirds of our members believing that Modo’s support in the community is important, we hope the membership will agree.
– Selena McLachlan, Director of Marketing
PS. If you haven’t already received it, keep your eye out for a short survey asking our members which key community events they’d like to see us support.