Keep Members Informed and Involved
Member responsibilities start with the conception of the cooperative and remain throughout its life to assure successful organization, sound management, and operation.
The communications and education function needs to be an integral activity of the management team. It requires the assistance, knowledge, and involvement of cooperative staff and member leadership groups. Effective communications and education programs require financial support and must be backed by specific board and management policies.
When members are involved and informed about the cooperative, they measure their needs in terms of dollars and are more willing to invest in and patronize the cooperative. Cooperative members should be intimately familiar with it and assume a positive, broad role in its management and direction:
understand its purpose, objectives, benefits, limitations, operations, finances, and long-term plans,
read and understand the articles of incorporation and bylaws,
know that laws limit their rights or powers and those of their board of directors,
Understand that bylaws or policies of the elected directors may further limit their operations by establishing member obligations, regulations and quality controls exceeding those prescribed by legal statutes and provide equity (risk) for the cooperative business.
Most cooperatives have a small beginning and find it necessary to borrow. Later, as they become established and business services expand, they generally find it neither necessary nor wise to rely on only member capital to meet all financial needs. The member or equity capital is used as a base to apply for a loan.
In summary, members’ participation in affairs of their cooperative increases their feeling of ownership and responsibility for its success.