We have all heard sayings like “the numbers don’t lie” or “the numbers tell a different story.” Well, I recently looked at a whole host of numbers that deal with Cherryland Electric Cooperative’s community impact and member engagement. I initially put them in a drawer, as I have never been one to boast about any accomplishment by our great team of employees. Ultimately, I could not resist the urge to write about them (I also had a deadline and needed a topic for this column so…).
For almost 20 years, Cherryland has had a zero-interest economic development revolving loan program. We have made loans to private individuals starting or expanding a business and also to fire departments and townships for emergency service vehicles. Since 1998, we have loaned out (with a zero-default rate) $3.6 million to 27 different companies and entities that helped to create or retain more than 200 local jobs.
In the nonprofit sector, our Cherryland Cares fund supported by more than 4,000 cooperative members has granted over $443,000 to 92 different area charitable organizations since 2006. On top of that, your cooperative sponsors approximately 100 different community events each year for an additional $60,000 annually. I wish I had stats for the number of volunteer hours Cherryland employees give to area organizations after the work day is done. I’m sure that total would be amazing too.
When it comes to communicating in various ways with cooperative members, the numbers tell a great story there as well. A recent survey indicates that 75 percent of our members read Michigan Country Lines on a regular basis. Nine out of 10 readers agree that Michigan Country Lines is an objective, informative, relevant and enjoyable source of information.
Our use of Facebook has grown by leaps and bounds over the last six years. We have reached 1.75 million people with Facebook posts since 2015. People have liked, clicked on or shared Cherryland’s Facebook posts 187,000 times in the last three years.
After reading my monthly column, many members comment in this blog. Since 2015, this blog has had 72,000 views and members have left 960 comments. If you would like to engage with this column, please do so. I see every comment and respond personally to most of them.
In an effort to cover all forms of member communication, we started the “Co-op Energy Talk” podcast three years ago. These 30-minute shows are produced in-house every month. We have had 7,545 plays since entering this new medium.
We have been experiencing growth in our media relations as well. In 2012, the local newspaper, radio and television reporters recorded 49 stories concerning the activities of your cooperative (30 outage related and 19 “other”). In 2015, this grew to 74 stories (24 outage related and 50 “other”). During the year of 2017, there were 98 stories (24 outage related and 75 “other”).
This is a lot of numbers to digest but they all tell a good story. Your cooperative is active and making a difference in the communities we serve in many, many ways. It is simply our mission to serve, lead, listen, innovate, evolve and communicate in meaningful ways. I think the numbers above show that we are walking our talk.