Seven Cooperative Principles

As a cooperative, CoBank operates according to the same set of guiding principles and values as thousands of other cooperatives around the world. These principles are the foundation for our dedication to the communities in which we live and work and our commitment to our member-owners.

The Seven Cooperative Principles

Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all people able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. The co-op rule is one vote per member.
Members’ Economic Participation
Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the transactions with the cooperative rather than the capital invested.
Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the co-op enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the members and maintain the cooperative autonomy.
Education, Training and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperatives.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
Concern for Community
While focusing on member needs, Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of communities through policies accepted by their members.