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The Rochdale Prioneers developed a set of principles for operating their consumer cooperative which have become known as “the Rochdale Principles” and are still regarded by many modern cooperators as “the main articles of faith” which should guide all cooperative action and which distinguish cooperatives from profit-oriented business. These are:

  1. Open membership, without restriction as to sex, or political, religious or other affiliation.

  2. Democratic control by the members;

    Each member has only one vote, regardless of how much the member has invested inthe cooperative's share capital. In the cooperative it is the person, not his or her wealth, that is important.

    There is no voting by proxy but members may vote by mail.

  3. Limited return on share capital.

  4. Net saving returned to members in proportion to their patronage of the association.

Other practices were later added, which were not regarded as essential for preserving the cooperative character, but which have been since adopted by many cooperatives. These are:

  1. Political and religous neturality.

  2. Continuous promotion of educational work, and regular appropriations therefore.

  3. Business done for cash only.

Source: Parker, F., “The First 125 Years”, the Cooperative League of the USA, Superior, Wisconsin, 1956, page XV.

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