In October, members from more than 29,000 cooperatives nationwide will join to celebrate the advantages of cooperative membership and recognize the benefits and values co-ops bring to their members and communities.
Unlike other businesses, cooperatives are not-for-profit, democratically controlled, volunteer-run, member-owned organizations. They exist to serve their members, and that level of service remains high even during even the toughest times. Instead of issuing stock or paying dividends to outside shareholders, cooperatives provide value to their members through their level of customer services and membership checks at the end of each year.
As a cooperative, we are guided by seven principles. Originally drawn up by Charles Howarth, one of 28 weavers and other artisans who founded the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers in Rochdale, England, on December 21, 1844, these principles governing cooperative operations were introduced into the United States in 1874 by the National Grange, and formally written down by the International Cooperative Alliance in 1937.
- Open and Voluntary Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Members’ Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training and Information
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives
- Concern For Community
These principles are underpinned by six ideals—the d cooperative values of Self-Help, Self-Responsibility, Democracy, Equality, Equity, and Solidarity. In addition, the International Cooperative Alliance lists cooperative “ethical values” of Honesty, Openness, Social Responsibility, and Caring for Others.