Benefits of a Member

From food to electricity to industry purchasing groups and everything in between – cooperatives can look like any other business from the outside. But when you take a look at the inside workings, you discover that instead of focusing on profits for owners and shareholders, coops are primarily interested in the benefits and services they can provide their members.

By definition, cooperatives are groups of people who are voluntarily united to work together toward a common goal using the democratic process. People and the democratic process are two vital elements that make coops work – members provide the voice and vote to decide the way things are done.

Members are owners

Members and employees are often entitled to patronage refund, special discounts, deals, education, training, services and sometimes even a dividend check at the end of each year after declaring the net surplus. Most often, people won’t receive these benefits without becoming a member.

Democracy in action

Membership entitles people to a voice in the operation of the organization. Representatives are elected to the board of directors. And, because every member and employee is directly affected by decisions made, there’s a big incentive to get involved in the process.

Those who give, receive

An important coop principle is that members accept the attached responsibilities – including voting and economic participation. Those who give, reap the rewards. And, unlike for-profit businesses, coops are not exclusively driven by profit – they are driven to serve their members, their employees and their communities.