Are you a member of a co-operative? Welcome to business ownership!
That’s right – being a member of a co-op means you’re an owner of that business; and as an owner, you have opportunities available to you. For starters, you can play a role in shaping your co-op’s future, its strategic direction, and some of the investments it’ll make.
You’re also entitled to receive information about how the co-op is performing and get a share of its profits. If all this sounds good to you, then you may be looking for even more ways to get involved.
Here are three options to consider if you want to get more involved in your co-op.
Attend member meetings
Every co-op holds an Annual General Meeting to present its annual report, appoint an auditor, and hold an election for the board of directors. As a member, you can (and should!) attend these meetings, have your voice heard, and cast a vote.
Attending the AGM is a great opportunity to learn how your co-op is doing, what major activities are underway, and to ask the co-op board and managers questions. There will be times when major decisions are made at these meetings, so you don’t want to miss out. Many housing co-ops will authorize budgets or major investments at their annual meeting, and some co-ops might change their name or amend their bylaws. You might get to have a say in new investments the co-op makes into the business or the community.
Plus, they’ll probably have a decent fruit and cheese selection, and you don’t want to miss that.
Participate in learning and engagement opportunities
Check in with your co-op’s managers or board to find out if they provide learning opportunities for their members. Some co-ops will provide resources that educate members about their co-op’s history, its goals, and how members can contribute. Others might hold information sessions, town halls, or events where members can meet up and learn. Maybe your co-op could sponsor you if there’s a program that you’re interested in or provide opportunities to participate in co-op activities.
Serving on committees, testing products, or giving feedback are great opportunities for members to help their co-op while getting more involved.
Run for a spot on the board
Maybe you’re ready to get a lot more involved. If so, consider putting your name forward for election to the board of directors. The board oversees the management of the co-op, reports back to the members, and ensures the co-op’s operations align with its purpose and strategic direction. If you want to get more involved in your co-op, this definitely the way to make an impact. And, if you’re part of a larger, for-profit co-op you might even get paid to serve on the board!
Check your co-op’s bylaws to ensure you meet the requirements of directors. Usually, this means being a member in good standing, being 18 or older, not having the status of bankrupt, and actively using the co-op’s services. Then reach out to the board to ask how you can explore this option further.
Learn more about being an active co-op member
Whether you’re new to co-ops or a long-time member, if you want to get more involved in your co-op you should check out our Co-op Professionals course. The course will introduce you to the unique features of a co-op’s ownership, operations, and governance. It’ll give you a great foundation to ask the tough questions at your next AGM or to get more involved. Click here to learn more and to get started.