Without active and engaged members, your co-op would not exist, so it’s important that they are at the heart of your organisational strategy. But why are members so important?
Members are important
It is essential you know why your co-operative or community business has members and ensure your membership strategy supports that objective. Members are important because:
- Co-operatives are owned and controlled by their members.
- Co-operatives primarily exist to meet the needs of their members.
Who can be a member?
- Members can be workers, customers, suppliers, residents, members of the community, other self-employed people or a combination of all of these (known as multi-stakeholder co-ops).
- Your governing documents should be clear about your purpose and define who is eligible to be a member.
- Your governing document, and your membership strategy should provide guidance on who you should target for membership recruitment.
Why do co-ops have members?
All co-ops need members to govern and run the co-op. But, in line with your mission, you may have members for other reason, including to:
- Generate income.
- Create a potential volunteer pool.
- Gain political influence.
- Build a customer base for products and services.
- Generate and share work.
- Ensure greater community support for your group/organisation - the more different types of people you have involved, the more representative it is of your target community.
- Bring skills and experience to benefit the organisation.
- Deliver more work as an organisation.
- Gather different ideas and opinions, leading to better decision-making.