It’s that time of year again – AGM season. Co-operatives and credit unions across Canada are issuing notices to their shareholders of upcoming annual meetings and presenting calls for board nominations. While not always the most exciting way to spend an evening, it’s important for the health of the business that you attend these events and exercise your rights as a shareholder.

(Plus, they often have cake. And who doesn’t like cake?)

Here are the top 3 reasons – besides cake – shareholders should attend annual meetings.

1. Annual meetings are where board of directors are elected

The role of a board is very important in co-operatives of all types and sizes. They create policy and make decisions affecting the day-to-day business of the co-operative. These decisions and policies have significant implications for individual shareholders, consumers, staff and the well-being of the business. So, it’s important to hold the board accountable for the decisions and policies they make. The AGM presents an opportunity for shareholders to bring questions to the board and ensure board members represent the interests of the majority of shareholders.

And if your interests go a bit deeper, consider running to serve as a director yourself. Serving on a board can be a rewarding and satisfying experience, and the impacts you make can have lasting effects. The procedure for becoming a member of the board of directors is generally available to shareholders – usually through a website or email. Contact your co-operative for details.

2. These meetings are important for voting on resolutions and policies

Prior to the AGM, shareholders will be invited to submit resolutions to the board (or resolutions committee). Resolutions received are discussed and voted on at the AGM. Generally, a resolution is a directive, order or change in policy impacting aspects of the co-operative’s business or policy. While some resolutions would simply change the wording of bylaws, others may suggest shifting the focus of the co-operative to include new markets, products or purposes. As a shareholder, you have the right to speak for or against any resolution and vote on its acceptance.

Is there something you would like to see change in your co-operative? Contact your board of directors to learn how to submit a resolution for the next AGM.

3. Annual meetings allow you to stay up-to-date

A staple at all annual meetings is reporting to shareholders. Typically, this includes a report on audited financial statements, a report from the president/chair and a report from the manager/CEO. These reports offer shareholders insight into the performance, direction, and stability of the co-operative. Reviewing these reports and asking questions helps ensure the business remains focused and healthy.

As a shareholder in a co-operative business, your voice and vote is important to the well-being of the business. Take the time to have some cake and make your share count at your next annual meeting.

Here are a few upcoming AGMs of larger co-operatives you might be a member of: