Membership and strategy

This section looks at a co-operative's membership as part of its strategy

Your mission (and the role of membership)

Members are important to you because:

  • The co-operative is owned and controlled by the members.
  • Co-operatives primarily exist to meet the needs of their members.
  • Members are the main customers or employees of the co-operative.

Your governing documents should be clear about your purpose and define who is eligible to be a member. As a co-operative this will usually be either your customers, workers or another defined group who has a trading relationship with you.

Your governing document, together with your action plans, should guide you regarding who you should target for recruitment.

Defining the purpose of membership

In line with your mission, you may have members for many different reasons, such as to generate income, political influence or to provide a customer base. In addition to governance of a co-operative, reasons to have members include (but are not limited to):

  • The more different types of people you have in your group/organisation, the more representative it is of your target community. This will ensure greater community support for your group/organisation.
  • Members bring skills and experience that they can use to benefit the organisation.
  • More members mean that you can do more work as an organisation.
  • The more members you have in your group/organisation the more different ideas and opinions are expressed and discussed, this will lead to better decisions being taken.
  • To generate income.
  • To create a potential volunteer pool.
  • To gain political influence.
  • To build a customer base for products and services.

It is essential you know why your co-operative or community business has members and ensure your membership strategy supports that objective.


Co-op skills training

We offer a number of one-day training courses on a range of topics, from governance to HR to finance – find out more.

Updated: 11/01/2018