Co-ops deliver electricity, sell produce, provide loans, and arrange for housing, health care and more. But despite these differences, they all have one thing in common, especially during National Cooperative Month, — seven cooperative principles:
- Voluntary and open membership: Available to all who can reasonably use their services.
- Democratic member control: Each member has one vote.
- Members’ economic participation: Providing services “at cost” and are not-for-profit.
- Autonomy and independence: Self-sustaining, self-help organizations controlled by their members.
- Education, training and information: Keeping members, directors, managers, and employees up to date on issues allows them to effectively govern the co-op. Communication, particularly with young members and opinion leaders, helps inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.
- Cooperation among cooperatives: Mutual support helps co-ops improve services, bolster local economies and deal more effectively with community needs.
- Concern for community: Strengthening communities with programs supported by the membership.