Did you know that October is National Co-op Month? As a member of The Alliance, you are a part of this movement which puts the member at the center of the organization as owner.
Throughout history cooperatives have existed to bring parties with similar interests together to pool their efforts and their resources in a way that they could not do on their own. Rather than rewarding outside investors, cooperatives share their profits with their members.
Cooperatives are found in every sector of the U.S. economy. Cooperatives were even mentioned as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act through the Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program, which create a new type of nonprofit, consumer-governed health insurer.
When The Alliance was formed in 1990, our seven original members chose the cooperative structure to allow participating employers to share both the responsibility and the benefits of membership. As a cooperative, seven principles of cooperation guide The Alliance’s operations:
Voluntary and Open Membership – Membership is the lifeblood of cooperatives. We’re proud to call more than 160 organizations members, many of whom have been with us for more than 10 years.
Democratic Member Control – Members set the direction of cooperatives. The Alliance Board is made up of employers who are elected by the membership. The Board sets the strategic direction for The Alliance. We’re always on the lookout for prospective board members, so if you have an interest in future board service, please let me know.
Member Economic Participation – Cooperative members contribute equitably to and democratically control the capital of the cooperative. For The Alliance, access fees, retainage and capital stock make up our revenue stream and ensure that everyone pays their fair share and that member contributions are proportional to benefits received. Last month, Equity members received a patronage check which is a share of the net proceeds of the cooperative. The Alliance Board of Directors determines the amount that will be paid out and how much will be kept on the books to be reinvested in the cooperative to enhance member benefits.
Education, Training and Information – Cooperatives have a long tradition of providing education and training to members. For Alliance members, Alliance Learning Circles provide educational opportunities to learn from knowledgeable speakers as well as from other cooperative members.
Autonomy and Independence – Cooperatives are autonomous, democratically controlled self-help organizations. The structure and governance of The Alliance protects our autonomy and our business model ensures our independence.
Collaboration – Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
The Alliance works with state and national organizations to serve our members and further our mission, including entities such as The National Business Coalition on Health, The National Quality Forum, Wisconsin Population Health Institute, Wisconsin Health Information Organization, Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality, and the HIPAA Collaborative of Wisconsin.
Concern for Community – While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members. The Alliance leverages the role of its members as purchasers of health care in the same market to make a positive impact in the health care system overall. Shining a spotlight on cost and quality differences to drive improvement is one such example.
See Your Cooperative in Action
Attend an Alliance Circle Event.