Principles and Values for Co-op Practitioners

CDI holds the following values as important within our organization and in our work with communities: cooperation and collaboration; equity, justice and fairness; integrity, honesty, and transparency. We aim to foster respect, inclusion, patience, trust, responsibility and wellness and to develop resilience and environmental sustainability. CDI fully supports the statement of values and principles adopted by the International Cooperative Alliance. CDI’s work is also guided by the Madison Principles, professional standards set by cooperative development leaders in Madison, WI in 1994. Finally, in our resident-owned community work, we ascribe to the ROC USA™ Organizing, Training, and Technical Assistance Principles.

ICA Cooperative Values

Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.

ICA Cooperative Principles

  1. Voluntary and Open Membership — Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
  2. Democratic Member Control — Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and cooperatives at other levels are organized in a democratic manner.
  3. Member Economic Participation — Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. They usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any of the following purposes: developing the cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
  4. Autonomy and Independence — Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
  5. Education, Training and Information — Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their cooperative. They inform the general public — particularly young people and opinion leaders — about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
  6. Cooperation among Cooperatives — Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
  7. Concern for Community — While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.

Madison Principles

CDI’s work is also guided by the Madison Principles, professional standards set by cooperative development leaders in Madison, Wisconsin in 1994. CDI is a member of CooperationWorks!, a nationwide network of cooperative development centers committed to fostering these principles across the country.

  1. Individuals providing technical assistance subscribe to the highest level of ethics and shall declare any conflict of interest, real or perceived, so that they can be a credible source of objective feedback and an articulate advocate of the project. Cooperatives are tools for development and should promote both social empowerment and economic goals. Applied appropriately, cooperatives have value to all population groups and for business and services in the public and private sectors.
  2. Each cooperative responds to its unique economic, social and cultural context; as a consequence, each cooperative is different.
  3. An enthusiastic group of local, trustworthy leadership is a prerequisite for providing technical assistance. The effective cooperative development practitioner nurtures that leadership by helping them shape a vision that will unite members and provide ongoing training.
  4. Cooperatives only work when they are market driven; the development practitioner seeks to ensure that accurate market projections precede other development steps.
  5. Member control through a democratic process is essential for success.
  6. Success also depends on the commitment of member time and financial resources.
  7. There must be tangible economic benefits for members.
  8. The cooperative’s products and services must generate sufficient revenue so that the effort can be financially self-sustaining. Provision must be made to share any surplus equitably.
  9. Market opportunities exist throughout the world. Cooperatives and market development should transcend national boundaries.
  10. Successful, established cooperatives should assist emerging cooperatives to develop. New and emerging cooperatives should be encouraged to communicate with and learn from successful cooperatives.

ROC USA™ Organizing, Training, and Technical Assistance Principles

CDI is a proud member of the ROC USA Network of Certified Technical Assistance Providers. As such, we ascribe to the following principles for organizing, training, and technical assistance with Resident Owned Communities.

  1. Trust is at the root of all effective relationships. An empowered membership is critical to building thriving neighborhoods and organizations. Information is shared openly with all members of the Board of Directors and, when it is not the subject of a personal or confidential nature, with all members.
  2. Our role is to develop options for consideration by the appropriate decision-making body within the Resident Owned Community and not one of imposing our choices.
  3. We support the creation of a democratic framework and coach fair democratic process and dispute resolution.
  4. Resident Owned Communities are encouraged and trained in how to hire and oversee third-party service providers for legal representation, engineering services, and auditing. Templates and information are furnished to make efficient use of these third parties and not as a substitute.
  5. Homeowners form corporations wherein directors have fiduciary and other duties to uphold. Our work must respect those duties in order for them to exist.
  6. We only support entities whose policies do not discriminate, and whose membership is open to all homeowners in the community regardless of their income level, age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religious creed, color, marital status, familial status, physical or mental disability, or national origin.
  7. The best long-term interest of the resident-controlled corporation as a community and borrower are our primary goals. When our role as a trainer and a lender are in conflict, we openly discuss our position with the Board of Directors and membership, as appropriate, and encourage them to consult third-party professionals privately on the issue.
  8. Long-term health and sustainability requires teaching respect and understanding of the organization and its Articles, Bylaws, Rules, and Policies.
  9. The respect and de-stigmatization of manufactured housing and the people who live in it is vital to the success of Resident Owned Communities. We demonstrate our respect through our words, actions, inclusion, and sharing the credit.