Capital Campaign FAQs
Why is the Co-op doing a capital campaign?
The Oshkosh Food Co-op needs capital to:
- fund our store construction
- hire staff
- purchase equipment and inventory
- assist with marketing and other expenses related to opening a cooperative grocery store.
We've been working with national cooperative grocer mentors and organizations to ensure our business plan and pro forma align with our vision and capital campaign plan. It will take $2.5 million to fund the Co-op. An estimated $1.6 million will come from a capital campaign with two methods for support: owner loans and charitable donations. Your support today will help us open our doors!
What will my money be used for?
Owner loans and charitable gifts will be used for design, construction, furnishings and equipment, hiring and training employees and marketing the store – essentially everything necessary to make the Oshkosh Food Co-op a reality.
That is a lot of money to raise, why so much?
There are a lot of expenses to opening a new grocery store from scratch. If you are interested in seeing a more detailed breakdown, we would be glad to send eligible lenders the investment packet which has some financial info in it.
Do you think you will be able to raise this much money?
Yes. Co-ops around the country have been raising money from their owners in order to expand or build new stores. We think our Owners will be motivated to make a loan or charitable gift in order to get a full-service grocery store in Oshkosh’s central city. In fact, it’s the best way to make the project happen!
What happens if we don’t raise enough money?
If we don’t raise enough money, the Oshkosh Food Co-op Board of Directors will meet to evaluate our options. Not raising enough funds may cause us to:
- Delay the project
- Lose our location
We believe we can reach our goal if everyone pitches in! We hope you will join us!
How I can support the Oshkosh Food Co-op Capital Campaign?
There are two ways to support the Capital Campaign:
Loans – Our Owner Loan Program is the core of our Capital Campaign. It is a way for member-owners to invest in the Co-op, just as you would for any other startup business. Owner Loan programs like ours have served as a powerful tool for food co-ops across the country. Owner Loans can be made by completing owner loan paperwork and returning it:
- via mail to Oshkosh Food Co-op, PO Box 722, Oshkosh, WI 54903-0722
- in person to 50 W. 6th Avenue, Oshkosh, WI 54902 (Sunday-Thursday, 6-9 p.m. ONLY)
Charitable gifts – Both members and non-members may make a charitable gift to support the project. Members may prefer this method of support if they reside outside the State of Wisconsin, are not yet 18 years of age or if they would like their support to be in the form of a charitable gift. Non-members who support the idea of bringing a full-service grocery store to Oshkosh’s central city may also wish to make a charitable gift. The Oshkosh Food Co-op welcomes charitable donations in any amount, made to the Oshkosh Food Co-op Fund at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. Charitable gifts can be made by returning the donation/pledge card:
- via mail to Oshkosh Food Co-op, PO Box 722, Oshkosh, WI 54903-0722
- in person to 50 W. 6th Avenue, Oshkosh, WI 54902 (Sunday-Thursday, 6-9 p.m. ONLY)
- online at https://www.oshkoshareacf.org/donate/
Owner Loan FAQs
If you are a member-owner potentially interested in participating in our Member Loan Program, please request a packet of information including our Private Offering Memorandum, which provides details about the investment as well as risks involved.
Please send us an email for more information.
What is an Owner Loan?
Owner loans are a common way that co-ops are funded. It’s pretty much what it sounds like –
an owner of Oshkosh Food Co-op decides to give a loan to Oshkosh Food Co-Op in order to help fund the store.
Is this typical of how co-ops are funded?
It is! Most co-ops use owner loans as part of their funding. We’ve seen successful owner loan campaigns from a wide variety of co-ops nationwide, including Green Top Grocery in Bloomington, IL, Wild Root Market in Racine, and Menomonie Market Co-op. Most recently, the Fredericksburg Food Co-op raised $1.8 million in owner loans in 10 weeks. We are inspired by their success!
Why does the co-op need Owner Loans? (Isn’t the Oshkosh Food Co-op funded by Member Equity?)
Owner loans are a standard form of financing for co-ops because owner equity does not provide enough funds to finance the entire project. The Oshkosh Food Co-op will be funded, in part, by owner equity, charitable donations, grants and owner loans. Owner loans are a better option than bank loans because they can help save the co-op money. With owners, we can also negotiate a payback schedule that supports the co-op during its start-up years! In fact, the project won’t work without owner loans!
Who is eligible to make an owner loan?
Any owner of Oshkosh Food Co-op, 18 years of age or older, whose primary residence is in the State of Wisconsin, is eligible to make an owner loan.
How much can I loan to Oshkosh Food Co-op?
There is no upper limit for how much you can loan to Oshkosh Food Co-op. However, there is a minimum loan size of $2,000.
Can I make more than one Owner Loan?
Yes, if you are eligible to loan, you can make more than one loan. Each loan must meet the minimum requirement of $2,000.
What is the term of the loans?
Our plan is to repay Owner Loans within 15 years. Interest will accumulate for the first 4 years. Repayment of principal and interest will begin in year 5 and continue through year 15.
What are the interest rates on the loans?
Interest rates are graduated, based on the size of the loan. Owners may choose any interest rate up to the amount specified for their loan size. In fact, some owners may choose to lend at a 0.00% interest rate – creating important savings on interest!
Up to 1.00%
Up to 1.10%
Up to 1.20%
Up to 1.30%
Up to 1.50%
Up to 1.75%
Up to 2.00%
Up to 2.25%
Up to 2.50%
Up to 3.00%
Why do the loan documents say March 31 when the campaign ends sooner?
We have a contingency in the lease that allows us to step away from the project if we are unable to raise the funds needed by March 31, 2020. If we do not raise the funds by that time, the project will not move forward at the current site.
Can I divide my loan payment up over time? (i.e. pay a little each month)
The Oshkosh Food Co-op can accept several loans at different times from the same lender (e.g. if someone wants to loan in the beginning of the campaign and then decides to loan more at a later time.) Each individual loan must meet the $2,000 minimum threshold. If you’d like to make a smaller monthly gift, please consider a charitable gift to the Oshkosh Food Co-op Fund at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. (This would require you to make the gift each month. Currently, automation is not possible.)
Is my money safe if I choose to lend it to the Oshkosh Food Co-op?
As with any loan, there are risks to lending to the Oshkosh Food Co-op. It is important lenders read the Offering Memorandum and understand the risks involved with a loan. Nationally, a co-op’s success rate after 5 years is 79%. (This compares with a typical retail success rate of 47% after 5 years.) The Board of Directors has studied the factors that contribute to co-op success and enlisted the advice of industry experts to help mitigate the risk. It is always a good idea to consult your financial planner or accountant before making an investment.
How is interest compounded?
Loans include simple interest, compounded annually.
Will I receive a 1099 every year for the interest accrued on my loan?
Your loan will be repaid in 11 equal, annual payments (comprised of principal and interest) beginning in year 5. You will receive a 1099 in any year in which the interest payment meets IRS requirements for issuance of a 1099.
Are Owner Loans secured?
An owner loan is unsecured by its terms, in that it is not tied to any security interest. In the event of bankruptcy, the U.S. Bankruptcy code assigns first priority to secured lenders, such as commercial banks. At this point in the project, we do not expect to take loans from commercial banks.
What happens to my loan if I die?
Notes may not be transferred to third parties without the Board’s approval. However, in case of the death of a Member holding a Note, the Note will transfer to the Member’s heirs or estate, irrespective of the residency of such transferee or whether such transferee is a Member of the Co-op. We encourage you to put your loan documents with your estate plan/financial files so your family members are aware of the loan. A secondary option is to have your spouse or a designee co-sign the loan. (This person needs to be a Wisconsin resident.) Because your loan is part of your estate, it is also a good idea to consult with your financial advisor or estate planner.
What happens if I need my money back early?
You should not expect to get the money back early. You can contact the Board if you have an extreme circumstance. Any early return is always at Board discretion.
What if I don’t have cash immediately available? The Campaign will run through December 15th. Commitments must be made by December 15th. Loans can be closed through January 15th. If you are facing unique circumstance in terms of availability of funds to make a loan, please talk with our Board President, Brenda Haines. In terms of donations, we welcome you to make a pledge to the campaign with anticipation that you’d transfer those funds to the Oshkosh Food Co-op Fund at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation once we have successfully funded the project, likely before March 31, 2020.
Why will it take so long for my Owner Loan to be paid back?
We based the repayment schedule on the financial projections described in the pro-forma.
Can legal documents be made public?
Because this is a private offering to members of the co-op, the legal documents should be kept confidential.
Can I speak to my attorney/financial advisor/accountant about an Owner Loan?
Please do! Speak with any representative you wish! We are also happy to connect with those representatives to answer any questions they may have. Although the prospectus is a confidential document intended only for current member-owners with a primary residence in Wisconsin, you may share the prospectus with a representative in order to help you evaluate the risks and rewards of the owner loans.
Is there a deadline for making a loan?
The campaign will wrap up December 15th. We would love to have all loans closed no later than January 15th. The sooner we reach our capital campaign goal of $1.6 million, the sooner we can begin store design and start construction.
How do I make a loan to the co-op?
The first step in making a loan is to obtain a legal information packet. To request this packet, please call or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The next step in making a loan is to speak with a member of the Capital Campaign Team to answer questions and finalize your interest rate. You'll then sign the legal paperwork and write a check.
Isn’t my ownership enough? Why is an owner loan needed?
The co-op needs startup funds. Funds to start the store come from a combination of ownerships, owner loans, landlord incentives and grants. Owner loan programs are long-standing methods used by co-ops to raise money and community support for their stores. They demonstrate the existence of a loyal customer base and reduce debt service making the business stronger.
What legal assurances have been put into place?
Owner Loans are legal in the state of Wisconsin. We have contracted with an attorney specializing in co-op law to prepare the loan paperwork.
If I move, what happens to my loan?
As long as your primary residency is in Wisconsin when the loan is made, and you alert us of your new address, we will continue to communicate with you at your new home making sure you get up to date information about your loan after your move.
Can I pay my loan in stocks?
No, you cannot pay your loan in stock. The legalities of such an arrangement make it difficult and costly, therefore we've decided that loans must be made via check or cash. If you would like to make a gift with stock, consider making a charitable donation to the Oshkosh Food Co-op Fund at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.
Can I pay my loan via credit card?
No, you cannot pay your loan with a credit card. The fees associated with credit card processing at these dollar amounts make it an unreasonable form of payment for an Owner Loan Campaign. If you’d like to support the campaign with a credit card payment, please consider making a charitable gift to the Oshkosh Food Co-op Fund at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. You may donate online at https://www.oshkoshareacf.org/donate/
I want to participate, but I don’t have the minimum investment amount for an Owner Loan!
There are a number of ways for you to participate:
- You can make a donation in any amount to the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.
- You already participate by being an Owner. If you have not paid your share in full, it is very helpful to finish that during our campaign.
- Tell everyone you know that we need their help to get our new store financed! Have them call or email the co-op for more information, or if you would like to give us their name and number, we can call them.
- Buy gift ownership shares for friends and family.
- Volunteer on a committee, provide snacks for our capital campaign call team, staff our booth or join our sign squad!
- Share our newsletter.
- Like & share our social media posts.
FAQs about Charitable Gifts
Why have you partnered with the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation?
Donations make it possible for each and every member-owner to participate in the Capital Campaign – because there is no minimum amount required for a donation. Likewise, donations represent an important source of financing – one that does not need to be paid back. This helps position the co-op to succeed as a start-up.
Are donations tax-deductible?
The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation is a 501(c)3, so donations are tax-deductible. Please check with your financial advisor or accountant for details on how making a charitable gift will affect your individual tax situation.
Can I get my donation back if the project doesn’t go forward?
If you are concerned, you may make a charitable pledge to the project. We will then “call” the pledge when the Board votes to move ahead with the project. Pledges would then need to be paid within 30 days.
I thought the co-op was a business. Why can it benefit from charitable gifts?
Because the Oshkosh Food Co-op will locate in a USDA “food desert” – an area that is low-income, with low-access to healthy food options – the project is considered to have a public benefit. Likewise, the co-op expects to stimulate economic development in the local food economy and connect people within our community, helping to reduce social isolation. For that reason, charitable dollars given to the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation can be used to support the co-op during its start-up phase.
FAQs about the Project
Can the co-op be financially successful?
A professional market survey produced a solid sales forecast used in financial projections prepared by the board of directors with the assistance of CDS Consulting (now called Columinate), a national consulting firm that works with food co-ops. If you are interested in further details about our business plan or sales projections, we would be happy to review those with you in detail.
How much operating capital have you built into the pro-forma and for how long?
For the size and scope and risk of this project, experts recommend having at least $150,000 of working capital available throughout the first 10 years of the project. Our lowest amount of working capital happens in year 8, with $134,138. Thereafter, working capital gradually begins to increase as Owner Loans are repaid.
When will the co-op hire a General Manager?
A national search for an experienced General Manager (GM) will begin when we reach our campaign goal. Our goal is to bring the GM on board 6 to 9 months prior to opening; he/she will oversee the final stage of development including store planning, hiring, vendor relationships, and purchasing. The GM job description will be available on our website.
Do you have a financial/business plan that shows how Oshkosh Food Co-op will spend its money?
We do. If desired, a copy of the business plan can be made available for in-person review upon request.