Seven Cooperative Principles
1. Voluntary and Open Membership Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people 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 – those who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative – who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions.
3. Member Economic Participation Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.
4. Autonomy and Independence Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreement with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms the ensure democratic control by the members and maintains the cooperative’s autonomy.
5. Education, Training and Information Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Member also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7. Concern for Community While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.
Keystone Development Center
KDC is supported through grants from the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant program.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. To learn more, please visit www.usda.gov
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