Who are the members?

This section will help you look at and think about who the members will be for your co-operative.

It's critical both for the business model and structure of a co-operative that it gets the question of “who are the members” right.

One way to do this is to do a stakeholder analysis and even better to do it with a group of people who want your idea to succeed and may even become members of the co-operative you create.

We will undertake a stakeholder analysis exercise as part of the workshop, but here is an overview.

List all the different stakeholder groups of the proposed co-operative, for example:

  • You (and possibly others as founders)
  • The customers of the co-operative
  • The people who work in the co-operative
  • The local community
  • Any community of interest, for example all the growers in a region
  • Any user of the services of the enterprise
  • Suppliers to the enterprise
  • Funders etc

Then identify the nature of the relationship of these stakeholders with the organisation, for example.

  • A trading relationship as customer or supplier
  • Ownership and control of the enterprise
  • Finance the enterprise through loans or shares
  • Passive supporters
  • Just need/want to be kept informed of activity/events/offers
  • Any combination of the above

You can then place your stakeholders on a chart plotting interest and control like the image below:

The stakeholders in the top right box are likely to be the members of the co-operative.

See the following relevant sections for additional information and useful downloads

The above infographic has been reproduced with permission from, and originally created by, Mark Simmonds for Transition Enterprise Handbook on behalf of the Transition Network.

Updated: 15/02/2017