co-ops communicate effectively
As a member-owner of your electric cooperative, you play a key role in the cooperative business model. The 2nd cooperative principle, democratic member control, allows you to participate in the process of determining your co-op’s leaders. Members in good standing may nominate and vote for candidates to serve on the board of directors, as well as offer to serve on the board themselves.
The 3rd cooperative principle, members’ economic participation, means you are entitled to a share of any capital credits (revenue over expense not needed to cover expenses and investments to co-op buildings, equipment and infrastructure), based on your years of membership.
Your cooperative’s bylaws, therefore, include the requirement to communicate notice of the annual meeting, information about candidates for its board of directors, details of any capital credit retirements and proposed rate or bylaws changes to all of its member-owners.
Furthermore, in carrying out the 7th cooperative principle of concern for community, co-ops also seek to promote programs of benefit to member-owners, including educational scholarships, assistance with home energy-efficiency improvements and more.
Each cooperative has a need to communicate with its memberowners on a regular basis. One way most co-ops meet this need is through a mailed publication. A full-color magazine sent using bulk-postage rates can be provided more cost-effectively than sending the same information by first-class mail. For Virginia coop members, Cooperative Living magazine costs just 49.9 cents per issue to both produce and mail, about the same as a firstclass postage stamp.
Providing a statewide magazine also helps co-ops fulfill the 5th cooperative principle of education, training and information. For example, articles and infographics in each issue discuss ways to reduce electricity use and lower monthly bills, how to prepare for outage events and more.
While member-owners can also obtain “need to know” information by stopping by their co-op office, visiting its website, picking up the phone or checking their email for, publications such as Cooperative Living provide additional value, highlighting people and places across the commonwealth as well as providing information related to the cooperative business model.