Board Basics

Understanding board basics is important. Every co-op and board is different, but all boards need to make smart decisions in a timely manner. Knowing the basics can help.

For start-ups, making quick, smart decisions can be especially challenging. New co-op board members have to balance developing the business while learning their new governance role. Often these people are running their primary business as well. That pressure and confusion can increase the stress on a young organization.

While confusion is normal for a start-up, if everyone knows their role (ie. who does what and why) then quick, good decisions can still be made.

A workshop for co-op start-ups

Our team of experienced professionals can help. This 2-hour workshop covers the basics of being a co-op board member and explores challenges specific to your co-operative. Together, we identify action items and equip you with the resources to put a plan into action.

Here’s how it works

  1. Complete a short survey. This step initiates the process and gives us an idea of the supports your co-op needs.
  2. You get an e-mail confirmation of receipt.
  3. Next, we set up a phone call to finalize the scope of the workshop and set a date that works for you.
  4. Within 2 weeks we host a Zoom workshop with your board that covers the basics and challenges identified by your co-op.
  5. Finally, we follow up with an action plan based on our discussion.


Our co-op was very satisfied with the level of detail, professionalism, and heart that Cooperatives First offered us. In the customized workshop we participated in we felt our needs and level of development were not only acknowledged but supported to strengthen with helpful resources, comments and insights. We’re grateful for the opportunity to build our governance literacy with support from Co-operatives First and appreciate what the organization does for emerging co-ops such as ours.

  • Keeley Nixon, Coordinator, BC Eco Seed Co-op

The Board Basics Workshop is just one of the many useful services our organization has used during our start-up phase. The thoughtful intake process ensured that the workshop was curated to target our specific needs and answer all of our questions efficiently and thoroughly. We were also impressed with the follow-up process that summarized our leanings and offered useful templates and resources to ensure smooth integration. This workshop is definitely time well spent for any board at any phase of working together!

  • Shelley Kavia, President, Heart Linked Community Service Co-operative

“Heather and the team at Co-operatives First are top-notch. Not only their knowledge but their understanding of the project. They have truly helped us along every step of the way. Their timely response and knowledge of the steps are extraordinary. They are forthcoming with information. This is one of the most knowledgeable and friendliest teams I have ever had the pleasure of working with.”

Weyburn Theatre

“Co-operatives First made the process of establishing our Artisan Co-operative a very clear and easy process. The expanse of available tools and resources provided by Co-operatives First answers many questions and lightens the workload. Greatly appreciate having the connections made with Trista and Kyle, they keep the co-operative moving forward.”

Nehiyawaskiy Indigenous Peoples Art Co-op

“Our experience working with the Co-operatives First team was absolutely fabulous. The staff was accommodating, knowledgeable and patient. It was truly a breath of fresh air to have such a wealth of skill and resources available to a non-profit. They were invaluable to our successful launch!”

Heart Linked Community Services Cooperative

“Working with Co-operatives First was fantastic! We are still new to the cooperative world, and we relied heavily on their advice and expertise when drafting our rules/bylaws, and our memorandum of association. The team has experience with many different cooperative models, so they provided advice on what has and hasn’t worked for other cooperatives. We wouldn’t have been able to incorporate without their help!”

Ananda Cooperative

“We have had a very positive experience with everyone at Co-operatives First. They have helped us in multiple ways. Right from the first step in knowing how to incorporate, how to set our business and offering ideas for us to help steer us in the right direction plus allowing us to really make our own decisions. If our decisions go off track, they have gently guided us back to where we needed to be. The Co-operatives first guys are always eager to answer questions, and give ideas to us that got us off the ground.”

South East Butcher Block