The Seven Cooperative Principles
Voluntary and Open Membership: Cooperatives are open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership.
Democratic Member Control: Cooperatives are controlled by members who, through representatives, set policies and make decisions. Members have equal voting rights – one member, one vote. In August, nearly 4,000 people attended Cuivre River Electric Cooperative’s Annual Meeting to elect directors.
Economic Participation: Members contribute equally to the cooperatives’ capital and allocate surpluses in proportion to their transactions.
Autonomy and Independence: Cooperatives are autonomous self-help organizations controlled by their members.
Education and Information: Cooperatives provide education for their members, directors and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives. Cuivre River offers several programs to local schools and community groups, plus sponsors several high school juniors each year to attend the Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., and several sophomores to attend the Cooperative Youth Conference & Leadership Experience (CYCLE) in Jefferson City.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives: Cooperatives serve their members and strengthen the cooperative by working together through local, regional, national and international networks. A great example of this network was the call for assistance from electric cooperatives in the Gulf Coast region during recent hurricane seasons. Cuivre River line workers joined thousands of other employees from cooperatives across the nation to help reconstruct electric systems destroyed by the strength of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Gustav. They also helped rebuild power lines close to home in southeast Missouri after ice storms last winter. Cuivre’s power supply is even generated and delivered by cooperatives, owned in part by Cuivre River members themselves.
Concern for Community: While focusing on member needs, cooperatives also work for the sustainable development of their communities. For example, Cuivre River’s Operation Round Up program has provided area residents and community organizations grants to assist with unmet needs since 1997.
These seven time-tested principles still provide the foundation for all cooperatives 165 years later. During October, think about how cooperatives may affect your life the next time you flip a light switch, bank at the local credit union or shop for food.