Podcasts and social media platforms are abuzz these days with life hacks—clever ways to help manage time and complete tasks more efficiently.

But that’s nothing new for electric cooperatives, who since their beginning have sought innovative ways to solve problems and widely share those solutions with other co-ops.

“Definitely for small co-ops, any kind of innovation or shortcut helps, because so many staff are wearing multiple hats,” says Mary Pat Paris, who as NRECA’s vice president of administration also oversees membership services. “At the same time, it’s not just limited to small co-ops. Large co-ops can take advantage of some of these ideas as well.”

Touchstone Energy® Cooperative has for several years featured an “Admire and Acquire” column in their monthly updates with “job hacks” submitted by members. Now they’re turning those ideas into a searchable database with an easy-to-use submission form.

“It is a natural progression from the knowledge base that we’ve been curating for more than a decade,” says Jana Adams, Touchstone Energy executive director. “These are quick reads with contact information to increase networking and sharing among Touchstone Energy members.”

Lori Everhart, Touchstone’s senior manager of communications and member relations, says demand for such tips “really took off during the pandemic’s early months.”

“More than ever, our members craved resources to support their communities and employees when life as we knew it was changing,” she says. “When our members are doing something unique and successful in their community, they are eager to share.”

Other sources of inspiration include the tools and tips section of NRECA’s Young Adult Member Engagement initiative on cooperative.com and the monthly Power Hour webinar with advice on a variety of topics from co-op experts.

The underlying theme, of course, is the sixth cooperative principle, says Paris: cooperation among cooperatives.

“I’m never surprised at how willing co-ops are to help each other,” she says.

Read on for some great co-op tips and hacks.

(NOTE: Please consult with your co-op’s attorney before implementing any new programs.)