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Shaping your Co-op’s Identity

Building a co-operative requires a lot of planning and development of documents, policies, and procedures. These steps can be a bit tedious, and even boring. However, early planning stages will require shareholders to think big about what they want the co-op to be. Creating mission, vision, and value statements can be one of the more engaging steps in co-op development that often allows shareholders their first tangible contribution to the co-op’s identity. This tool helps clarify the purpose of mission, vision, and value statements.

Mission Statement

The mission statement simply explains what your co-operative does. This statement should be concise and serve as a one-line overview of why the organization exists, and why your co-op’s identity matters. It should convey a clear purpose and direction for the organization, offering something to work towards. Everything the organization does should be in service of this mission.

Examples:

  • Integris Credit Union: “We are committed to enhancing the well-being of our members, staff and communities.”
  • Upper Columbia Cooperative Council: “Thriving Participatory Communities.”

Vision Statement

The vision statement is less direct than the mission statement and is usually more aspirational and inspirational. Think, “What is the vision for my co-op’s identity?” For many organizations, a vision statement captures an ideal outcome or a societal goal that we need to work towards together.

Examples:

  • Saskatoon Community Clinic: “Healthy people in a healthy community.”
  • FCL: “Federated Co-operatives Limited will set the world standard in consumer co-operative experience.”

Values Statements

A values statement may contain multiple values that demonstrate the priorities for the co-operative and identify how it will conduct business. Your co-op’s identity and vision statement speak to the nature of the co-operative and should be reflected in the work that it does.

Examples:

  • Farmer Direct Co-op: “Guided by our strongly held core values, Farmer Direct Co-operative is dedicated to the creation of a fair and just food system. We pursue these goals with the highest integrity and respect. Through our actions and activities we aim to:
    • Support, protect, and promote sustainable, organic agriculture and environmental practices.
    • Foster ethical and equitable relationships by providing fair return for producers’ products; fair wages and safe and healthy workplaces for employees; and clear communication with all stakeholders.
    • Provide producers with an opportunity for co-operative ownership of their own food brand and marketing channels.
    • Provide safe, nutritious food for consumers.”
  • Servus Credit Union:
    • “Member service – Serving our members is our primary focus and improving their financial well-being will always be our goal.
    • Integrity – We’re an organization you can trust. We take ownership of our actions and we’re open to feedback from others.
    • Life/work balance – We promote a healthy life/work balance for our employees that meets both their needs and the needs of our credit union.
    • Community – We’re active participants in our members’ communities and people know us for our generosity, our spirit and our leadership.
    • Teamwork – We’re a welcoming family, trusting and supportive, encouraging and collaborative, fun and professional.
    • Fairness – We value each and every member and employee, and are reliable and flexible in our interactions with them.
    • Investing in our people – We believe success is achieved through our people. We work in partnership with our employees to help them reach their personal, professional and corporate goals.”
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