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

“I thoroughly enjoyed the Good Governance Matters course offered by Co-operatives First. The course provided a solid background on governance generally and specific examples of good governance practices in co-operatives. It is uncommon to find governance training specific to co-operatives so this was refreshing.”

Janet Taylor (Corporate Secretary)

Libro Credit Union

“The Good Governance Matters Course was a valuable course. I shared it with the [Arctic Co-operatives Limited] Senior Leadership Team. If it ever comes up again, I highly recommend others to take it.”

Mary Nirlungayuk (Corporate Secretary and Vice-President, Corporate Services)

Arctic Co-operatives Limited

“The online course, Good Governance Matters was very informative, easy to navigate and discussed issues relevant to our needs as a Board of Directors. This course is a great tool for boards to build their knowledge to become strong, strategic boards.”

Lori Sanders (President)

Sherwood Co-op

“This course has greatly increased my understanding of what good governance could/should look like and how each part (boards, management, members) plays a vital role in the co-operative’s success.”


“This course was highly enjoyable, and relevant to working in not only the co-op space, but with any group that needs to make decisions.”