Cooperative Bylaws

When founding your cooperative, the bylaws are an important part of the process. The bylaws can be amended at the annual general meeting and define the organization and its running.

Guidelines for the cooperative bylaws

The bylaws of cooperatives underlie specific criteria they have to fulfil which often depend on the federal, state or provincial cooperative legislation. Still, there exists a general guideline of what should be included in the bylaws and which sections are optional, according to the individual needs of the cooperative. 

Content of cooperative bylaws

There are rules which have to be in the cooperative bylaws, rules which should be in the bylaws and rules which are optional. 

The bylaws have to include the following rules:

  • the purpose of the cooperative
  • the name of the cooperative
  • the principal office

The bylaws should additionally include rules about:

  • how to become a member
  • cessation of membership
  • membership duties, e.g. if membership fees have to be paid
  • the composition of the board of directors
  • how and when the members come together for a general meeting
  • elections and voting procedures
  • specifics about putting forward and voting on resolutions 

POLYAS Tip: Do you want to vote online in your cooperative? Add online voting to your bylaws as a voting option. Get started today >

Optional: Is amending the bylaws necessary?

In general, cooperatives can develop their bylaws as they wish, if the legislation applying to them allows it. Often bylaws are written according to guidelines provided to cooperatives. 

Optional sections in the bylaws are often included to meet the requirements of the cooperative’s individual purpose. As mentioned above, certain points have to be included in the bylaws so that the cooperative runs smoothly and there is no dissimilarity between members and the executive.

In certain cases, it is necessary to amend the bylaws to keep up with new developments in society, such as the possibility to vote online. Have a look how to amend your cooperative’s bylaws!