Cooperatives around the world generally operate according to the same core principles, and they trace these roots to the first cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844. This is considered the birth of modern cooperatives because of the principles and practices created to guide the co-op. The principles have evolved over the years, but no matter the industry, today all cooperative businesses adhere to seven guiding principles. CoServ's perspective:
- Voluntary and Open Membership—Cooperatives accept any person able to use our services who agrees to the responsibilities of membership.
- Democratic Member Control—We’re governed by our Members. Those elected to the Board can actively participate in setting policies. Elected board representatives answer to the Member-owners. In the name of equality, each Member gets one vote at election time. (It doesn’t depend on your energy usage or your tenure with us.)
- Members' Economic Participation—Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of CoServ. The cooperative returns margins (or profits) to Members in the form of Capital Credits, our version of dividends.
- Autonomy and Independence—Cooperatives are independent companies controlled by our Members. If we enter into agreements with other organizations (including governments) or raise capital from external sources, we do so on terms that ensure continued democratic control by our Members.
- Education, Training, and Information—We teach and train our Members, Board Directors, Managers, Employees and the general public. Topics include industry issues, conservation, community involvement, safety and more.
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives—We serve our Members best by strengthening the cooperative movement and working together through structured groups (such as Texas Electric Cooperatives or the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association).
- Concern for Community—We live here too and want to see our community prosper. That’s why CoServ invests in worthy causes throughout our service area through the CoServ Charitable Foundation and Operation Roundup.