Co-operative principles

Co-operative principles for housing co-ops

On September 23, 1995, the International Co-operative Alliance, the body representing co-operatives worldwide, adopted new co-operative principles. They appear in short form below.

  1. Open membership  Co-ops are open without exception to anyone who needs their services and freely accepts the obligations of membership.
  2. Democratic control Co-ops are controlled by their members, who together set policy, make decisions and elect leaders who report to them. In primary co-ops each member has one vote.
  3. Economic participation All members contribute fairly to their co-ops, which they own in common. Co-ops pay a limited return (if any) on money people have to invest to become members.   Surpluses are held for the future and used to improve the co-op’s services.
  4. Independence All agreements co-ops sign with outside organizations or governments should leave the members in control of the co-op.
  5. Co-operative education Co-ops offer training to their members, directors and staff. Co-ops tell the public what they are and what they do.
  6. Co-operation among co-operatives Co-ops work together through local, national and international structures to serve their members.
  7. Community Co-ops meet members’ needs in ways that build lasting communities within and beyond each co-op.

Get more information about putting these principles into action in CHF Canada's publication, Getting our Co-op Principles Right.