Most cooperatives are guided by the “Seven Cooperative Principles” described below. However, some cooperatives are now moving to include an eighth principle that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion as a core value. For more information about this, check out: “US credit unions to include diversity as the eighth co-operative principle,” Coop News (September 2019.)
- Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperatives 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: Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Elected representatives are accountable to the membership. Members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote).
- Member Economic Participation: Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. Members allocate surpluses for developing their cooperative, 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 and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into 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, and Information: Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, representatives, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
- Cooperation among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
- Concern for Community: Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.