ACE Hardware, State Farm, American Crystal Sugar, Land O’Lakes, and Nodak Electric all share something in common – we’re all cooperatives.
We may be in different industries, but we all share a passion for serving our members and helping our communities to thrive. In fact, all cooperatives adhere to the same set of seven principles that reflect our core values of honesty, transparency, equity, inclusiveness, and service to the greater community good. October is National Co-op Month, so this is the perfect time to reflect on these principles that have stood the test of time, but also provide a framework for the future. Let’s take a look at the cooperative principles.
Voluntary and Open Membership
Just like all co-ops, Nodak was created out of necessity – to meet a need that would have been otherwise unmet in our community. So, in 1940 a group of neighbors banded together and organized our electric co-op so everyone in our community could benefit. For a modest membership fee to the co-op, any farmer could get electricity brought to his farm. Neighbors came together to tackle a problem that they all had but couldn’t solve alone. They worked together for the benefit of the whole community, and the newly established electric lines helped power economic opportunity in our community.
Democratic Member Control
Our co-op is well suited to meet the needs of our members because we are locally governed. Each member gets a voice and a vote in how the co-op is run, and each voice and vote are equal. Nodak’s leadership team and employees are from right here. Our board of directors, which helps set long-term priorities for the co-op, also lives locally on co-op lines. These board members have been elected by neighbors just like you. We know our members have a valuable perspective, and that’s why we are continually seeking your input and encourage you to weigh in on important co-op issues and participate in co-op elections.
Members’ Economic Participation
As a utility, our mission is to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy to our members. But as a co-op, we are also motivated by service to the community, rather than profits. Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of Nodak Electric. At least part of that capital remains the common property of the cooperative. Because we are guided by seven cooperative principles, it’s not just about dollars – it’s about opportunity for all and being fair when engaging with our members. The cooperative way is a values-based business model.
Autonomy and Independence
The fourth principle, Autonomy and Independence, means that the co-op operates in an autonomous way that is solely directed and guided by its members, reflecting the values and needs of our local community. This means the co-op is not being influenced by leaders or shareholders several states away. Instead, the co-op is led by the local members it serves.
Education and Training
The fifth principle, Education and Training, focuses on enhancing the knowledge of co-op employees and board members, which enables them to contribute to the development of the co-op.
By investing in continuous learning for our employees and board members, our co-op is making a commitment not just to individual professional and personal growth, but to the future of the co-op and the high quality of service our members expect and deserve. It’s a win-win situation.
We also strive to inform our members (that’s you!) and the public about the mission and operations of the co-op. In fact, that’s why you receive this magazine, so we can share the latest co-op news and updates, as well as energy efficiency and safety tips.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Cooperation Among Cooperatives is the sixth principle and fosters the way that co-ops work together to address bigger challenges. While this principle applies to all types of cooperatives, it is especially relevant in the energy industry. In our case, we put this principle in action after major storms and disasters that cause widespread power outages. When this happens, we call on nearby co-ops to come to our aid and assist with restoration efforts, and we of course extend the same help to them when they need us. I can’t think of a better example of cooperation among cooperatives.
Concern for Community
The seventh principle, Concern for Community, is essential to who we are as cooperatives. We serve our community not only by being an essential service, but by helping to power our local economy. Whether through economic development, volunteerism or donations to local causes, we invest in our community because it’s our home too.I think you’ll find that most cooperatives bring good people together to make good things happen in the community. We hope you feel that way about us – your local electric co-op.