Learning the cooperative principles

Posted on Feb 22 2018 in Orange County REMC

Matthew C. Deaton

One of my favorite bumper stickers says, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”

The importance of education was drilled into me by my parents and teachers from my earliest memories. It is no accident that we educate children from a very early age, while our young minds are still dry sponges, ready to absorb so much.

The original seven co-op principles, set forth in 1844, contained the simple phrase, “promotion of education.” Today, the fifth cooperative principle states that all co-ops should promote “education, training and information.” This is intended for the employees, members and the community at large.

This principle is based on the simple premise that if people know more about the cooperative business model, they will be in a much better position to understand the benefits and promote better use of the co-op and its resources.

While there are over one million people in the U.S. who work for cooperatives of all types, including agriculture, housing, credit unions and many others in addition to electric co-ops, very few of us learn about cooperatives in school. That creates a real challenge when trying to explain the cooperative difference. People understand an investor-owned business is designed to make a profit or that a non-profit, like the Red Cross, is designed to serve the community. Co-ops have both an economic and social purpose. We operate on a not-for-profit basis so that we can pass along the best price for our product or service to you, the member–owner.

Matthew C. Deaton
General Manager/CEO