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Seven Cooperative Principles

BigmapAlthough there were cooperatives formed earlier, the birth of the modern cooperative is credited to the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society of England in 1844.  This is considered the start of modern cooperatives because of the principles and practices they created to guide their co-op.

The principles have evolved over the years, but no matter the industry, today all cooperative businesses adhere to seven guiding principles:

1. Voluntary and open membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons 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, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. The elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.
3. Members' economic participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
4. Autonomy and independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
5. Education, training, and information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperatives. They inform the general public, particularly young people and opinion leaders, about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
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 their communities through policies accepted by their members.

We demonstrate our Concern for Community by volunteering and donating to local charitable causes. Nearly $500,000 in grants have been distributed in the last decade through grants and Operation Round Up funds to individuals and organizations in need. We also provide assistance to Habitat for Humanity, schools, churches and community events. To learn more, click on Community Involvement above. learn more

Members benefit from electric service reliability, competitive rates, money after co-op bills are paid in the form of patronage/capital credits, discounts, informative co-op publications, easy-to-access payment plans, rebates, scholarships, family-friendly Member-only events and a vote in the direction of Hancock-Wood Electric Co-op. To learn more, click on Member Benefits above. learn more

Hancock-Wood keeps Member owners informed about legislation that could impact their rights or lead to unstable energy costs. Your voice has been heard at the highest court in the land. In response to petitions by electric co-ops, states and industry, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of the Clean Power Plan. This is an unprecedented act by the Supreme Court. To learn more, click on "Legislation" above or go to action.coop learn more