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Cooperating Associations

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What is a Cooperating Association?

Many Refuge Support Groups have found that operating a sales outlet on their refuge is a highly effective method of raising funds, with sales income quickly becoming an important source of dependable funds for their projects. Refuge Support Groups that manage refuge sales outlets are called Cooperating Associations.

Cooperating Associations sign a Memorandum of Understanding or Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that allows them to operate a sales outlet on a National Wildlife Refuge. This Agreement defines the relationship between the Service and the nonprofit organization.

As Cooperating Associations, groups use their stores to support and reinforce the missions of their refuges. In addition, they provide assistance to their refuges by directing sales profits into various refuge projects and programs.



Merchandise display at a Cooperating Association book storeHow can I start a Cooperating Association?

The Refuge Support Group Program offers a full range of help for organizing and managing a group (see our Resources section). Groups that establish a Cooperating Association generally need additional assistance in getting started, from operating funds to information on bookkeeping and managing an inventory. Among the best resources available are other Cooperating Associations, whose members are always willing to help new groups get started (see the Directory to find a group near you).

Be sure to talk to the refuge/site manager from the very beginning and work closely together so that everyone has a clear understanding of what your agreement should include. Assistance or consultation may be needed from the Service's regional offices.

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