7 Cooperative Principles

Seven principles are applied by the co-op movement worldwide. These were formalized in 1995, based on the six principles drawn up in England in 1844.

1. Voluntary, open membership

2. Democratic owner control

3. Owner economic participation

4. autonomy and independence

5. Education, training and information

6. Co-operation among cooperatives

7. Concern for the community 

Join the cooperative movement. Discover how you can apply these principles. Sign up for CDL 2016 today!


From timelines to documentation, and technical assistance, Cooperative Development Institute, an excellent resource.  


  • Find a group with a common vision - you will need at least five for a board of directors
  • Make plans for what you'd like to achieve together, and draw these out in a feasibility study and business plan
  • Register. Similar to registering a company, but governed by different legislation (in Maine). You will need Articles of Organization at least
  • Draft rules that comply with the relevant laws
  • Draft a disclosure statement to let the members know of their obligations
  • Once the co-op is registered and the documents are approved, hold a formation meeting
  • Sign the rules and you're in business

 Below is a survey of some excellent cooperative resources available on the  interweb. We'll be adding to these, so stay tuned! 

Worker Co-ops

US Federation of Worker Cooperatives,www.usworker.coop

Democracy at Work Institute dawi.usworker.coop

Democracy at Work Network,www.dawn.coop

American Worker Cooperative,www.american.coop

ICA Group,www.ica-group.org

Understanding Worker-Owned Cooperatives: A Strategic Guide for Organizers, http://www.communitychange.org/uploads/files/worker-ownedcoops11_30.pdf


US Co-op Resources                                   

CooperationWorks! , www.cooperationworks.coop

National Cooperative Business Association, www.ncba.coop

University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, www.uwcc.wisc.edu

International Cooperative Alliance,www.ica.coop


Cooperative Fund of New England, www.coopfund.coop

Local Enterprise Assistance Fund,www.leaffund.org

National Cooperative Bank,www.ncb.coop

Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet),www.acenetworks.org

Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund,www.ncdf.coop


Co-op Law Center,http://www.co-oplaw.org/

Starting a Co-op

Co-op 101: A Guide to Starting a Cooperative,www.cdi.coop/CDIcompletestart-uppkt2010.pd

Vital Steps: A Cooperative Feasibility Study Guide,www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/pub/sr58.pdf

Credit Unions

Report of the CUNA Cooperative Alliances Committee (pdf)