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
Email: reynolds@aae.wisc.edu

 

Cooperative Principles

Cooperative principles were first established in Rochdale, England in 1844, by a group of woolen mill workers who formed a cooperative to purchase household supplies in volume. The principles given below, however, are used today as a guide and were adapted from the Rochdale Principles in 1995 by the International Co-operative Alliance.

  • Voluntary & Open Membership
    Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
  • Democratic Member Control
    Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.
  • Member Economic Participation
    Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
  • Autonomy & Independence
    Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter to agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
  • Education, Training & Information
    Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public - particularly young people and opinion leaders - about the nature and benefits of co-operation.
  • Cooperation Among Cooperatives
    Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
  • Concern for Community
    Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.