The UK Society for Co-operative Studies (UKSCS) has had an extremely challenging year, secretary Richard Bickle told its annual general meeting in Leicester on 6 September.
For the year to March 2015, the registered charity, which has had its funding from the Co-operative Group halved to £2,500 a year, has decreased its total expenditure to £10,548 – from £22,634 for 2013/2014.
To reduce costs UKSCS has changed its auditors as well as the online publisher of the Journal of Co-operative Studies. The charity has also transferred its membership record to an open source customer relations management system. Switching membership payment to direct debit and changing contractors posed another challenge, causing delays in processing subscriptions payments.
“People required chasing and as a result we lost a significant number of members,” said Mr Bickle.
In March 2015 the organisation had 48 members, the fewest since it was set up nearly 50 years ago. For the year ending March 2015 the income from membership subscriptions fell from £8,584 to £4,315. But after contacting members to renew their subscription, it membership has risen to this month’s figure of 96.
UKSCS hosted a number of events in the past year, including its annual conference at Essex University in September 2014. This was smaller than in previous years, generating an income of £3,989, down from £8,692 in 2013/2014.
This AGM also saw executive committee elections – with three members appointed for a three-year term, two for a two-year term and one for one year. Nine candidates stood for seven vacancies, with Gilian Lonergan, Cilla Ross, Ian Adderley, Richard Bickle, Cheryl Barrott, Ian Hewitt and Jan Myers elected.
Following last year’s AGM Pat Juby was welcomed to the executive committee to fill a vacancy and Dr Jan Myers was co-opted as an additional member. In December last year, chair Maurice Austin said he had decided not to renew his membership and was therefore ineligible to serve on the executive committee or to hold office. With the vice chairs also standing down, future meetings will be chaired by remaining executive committee members on rotation until a new chair is appointed.
All journal articles for the last 110 years are now available online for free on Co-operative News’ website. “As an educational charity for public benefit, the more people accessing the journal, the better,” said Mr Bickle.
Presenting last year’s results, journal editor Dr Paul Jones said the publication had become much more international. Its deputy editors – Professor Luc Thériault and Dr Olive McCarthy – come from Canada and Ireland and editions have been published in those countries.
“We are recognised as a player within the co-operative world in terms of academic practical publications. We publish a practice-oriented journal,” said Dr Jones.
He admitted that attracting good quality papers was harder because the journal was not rated in academic indexes, and Jan Myers said the journal would look at building links between practitioners and academics and theory and practice.
The journal will feature more case studies of practice, which should benefit academics and co-operative practitioners, she added.