The Cooperative Paperclip Project brings in cash, camaraderie

Co-op Clip ND logoPaper clip: $0.25.

Building relationships and your community, too: Priceless.

A few months ago, five cooperatives across North Dakota began trading items of nominal value, like a paperclip, for something bigger and better as a part of the Cooperative Paperclip Project. (Read our previous blog posts about the project: How cooperatives are raising money with a paperclip and Progress report on The Cooperative Paperclip Project.)

Last week, the trading came to an end when the items were gathered and sold in a silent auction at Basin Electric’s Annual Meeting. Together, the items sold for $1,425! The proceeds will be dispersed to charities of the participating cooperatives’ choice.  (See the project results and the benefitting charities in their Facebook post below.)

Katie Ryan-Anderson works for Northern Plains Electric Cooperative and Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative. She started the project and says she is proud of its success. “It’s a wacky idea – trading a paperclip for something bigger and better. And it’s scary too. What if people say no? What if we can’t trade for anything?  But we dared to try something different and in doing so, the co-ops not only raised $1,425 for charity, we also enhanced our personal and professional relationships and raised awareness to the co-op difference,” Ryan-Anderson says.

Pete Erickson

Erickson stands in front of the Cooperative Paperclip Project booth at Basin Electric’s Annual Meeting where members bid on items in the silent auction. His cooperative traded up to the star quilt which can be seen in the background.

Pete Erickson is North Central Electric Cooperative’s member services manager. His cooperative participated in the project and traded up to the star quilt that sold for $625 at the silent auction. “I’m proud we were able to trade up to something that represents our cooperative so well. Star quilts are very cherished around here and that was reflected at the auction,” Erickson says. “It means a lot that people are so willing to help. It tells me they really value the co-op and our community.”

And just as the trades grew bigger and better, Ryan-Anderson hopes the Cooperative Paperclip Project will grow, too. “Next year, we want to get more co-ops involved and raise even more money to help these causes that are closest to our hearts.”


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