Cooperative businesses adhere to seven guiding principles:
1. 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.
2. Democratic Member Control -- Cooperatives are democratic
organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in
setting policies and making decisions. The elected representatives are
accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have
equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other
levels are organized in a democratic manner.
3. Membersí Economic Participation -- Members contribute equitably
to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At
least part of that capital is usually the common property of the
cooperative. 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 the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of
which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to
their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities
approved by the membership.
4. 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 cooperative
5. Education, Training, and Information -- Cooperatives provide
education and training for their members, elected representatives,
managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the
development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public,
particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and
benefits of cooperation.
6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives -- Cooperatives serve their members
most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working
together through local, national, regional, and international
7. Concern for Community -- While focusing on member needs,
cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities
through policies accepted by their members.
This information is from National Rural Electric Cooperative