As October rolls around, it's time to celebrate Cooperative Month, a time to recognize and appreciate the value of cooperatives in our communities and economies. Cooperatives are unique organizations that operate for the benefit of their members, and they offer a wide range of benefits that extend far beyond just financial gains. Here are some of the key advantages of being part of a cooperative.
Collective Ownership and Control One of the fundamental principles of a cooperative is that it is owned and controlled by its members. This means that every member has a say in the decision-making process. Whether it's a worker cooperative where employees have a say in how the business is run or a consumer cooperative where customers have a voice in product offerings and pricing, cooperatives empower individuals to have a direct impact on the organization's direction.
Shared Financial Benefits Cooperatives are not driven solely by profit maximization. Instead, they focus on meeting the needs and goals of their members. This often translates into shared financial benefits. Members may receive dividends based on their purchases or investments, and these profits are distributed more equitably than in traditional business models. This can lead to better economic stability for members and their communities. Bijou averages $250,000 in payouts each year plus $15,000 to $20,000 in account credits annually!
Access to Resources Cooperatives often pool resources to achieve common goals that might be difficult to attain individually. For example, as a cooperative that is a communications company, we are a part of NTCA, NRTC, and CTA, which are organizations that lobby on our behalf. Such resource-sharing can significantly improve members' quality of life.
Social and Community Impact Cooperatives often have a strong sense of community and social responsibility. They reinvest profits locally, support local businesses, and contribute to the well-being of their neighborhoods. Being part of a cooperative can give members a sense of belonging and connection to a community of like-minded individuals working together for a common purpose.
Sustainability Many cooperatives have a strong commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. By collectively making decisions that prioritize sustainability, cooperatives can have a significant positive impact on the environment. This aligns with the growing awareness and concern for ecological issues in today's world.
Cooperatives are not just about financial gains; they are about creating a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable society. During Cooperative Month and throughout the year, it's essential to celebrate and support organizations that promote cooperation over competition. Whether you're considering joining a cooperative or already a member, take pride in the fact that you are part of a movement that values people and communities as much as profits. Happy Cooperative Month!