Co-ops and you!

Contact Us

University of Wisconsin
Center for Cooperatives
230 Taylor Hall
427 Lorch Street
Madison, WI 53706
Phone: 608-262-3981


A Co-op and Its People

As mentioned earlier, a co-op is owned and controlled by the people who use its services. With customer satisfaction and meeting member needs as the principle characteristic, the interaction of the managers with the employees, or that of the board with the management is a critical issue to the success of the cooperative.

Members: Members are the reason why a cooperative is formed in the first place. Being the legal owners of the cooperative, members carry a lot of influence in the cooperative. Members must know what the cooperative can do for them, the cooperative’s purpose, mission and goals. Members also provide the equity that is required for running a cooperative. Initially, this equity is formed by the purchase of stock/membership fees and continues by permitting the cooperative to retain a portion of the net earnings allocated to each member at the end of the year. In accordance with the cooperative principles, usually every member has one vote and the member can use that vote

  • To adopt and amend articles of incorporation and bylaws.
  • To elect and if, necessary, remove directors.
  • To decide whether to dissolve, merge or consolidate the cooperative.
  • To make sure officers, directors and other agents comply with laws applicable to the cooperative and with its articles of incorporation, bylaws and membership contracts.

Other general responsibilities include:

  • Patronize the cooperative.
  • Be informed about the cooperative.
  • Be conscientious about when selecting and evaluating directors.
  • Provide necessary capital.

(Source: Co-ops 101, An Introduction to Cooperatives published by the United States Department of Agriculture)