Differences between a co-operative Society and an NGO/Foundation
Co-operative societies and Non-governmental organizations are often times mistaken to be one and the same, this is because they bear a lot of similarities. However there are a few striking differences which include;
- A Co-operative can be defined as “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise. While a non-governmental organization (NGO) is a citizen-based association that operates independently of government, usually to deliver resources or serve some social, humanitarian or political purpose.
- To protect the interest of members, co-operative societies are placed under state control through registration. While getting registered, a society has to submit details about the members and the business it is to undertake. While NGOs’ are under the control of the Corporate Affairs commission.
- A co-operative society is totally based on voluntary membership. Persons having a common interest can join as members. A member can join the society as and when he likes. Continue for as long as he likes, and leaves the society at will. While there exists a more rigid procedure for appointment and removal of a trustee of an NGO.
- One primary difference between a co-operative and an NGO is how money flows back into the community: a nonprofit organisation cannot distribute profits to members or trustees, while a co-operative society generally distributes profits based on members’ participation in the co-operative (through patronage dividends). The primary source of funding may also be different: whereas a co-operative generates most or all of its revenue through the sale of goods and services, a non-profit organisation can receive tax-deductible donations from community members and foundations, and is limited in the amount of business activity it conducts unrelated to its charitable purpose.
- Another striking difference is that a non-profit organization may have more limits on its activities than a co-operative society, as it must be organized and operated exclusively for charitable, educational, or other specified purposes. Specified purposes can include relief of the poor, distressed, or underprivileged; combating community deterioration; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; and education, to name a few. These purposes must benefit the broader public and a charitable class of people (such as low-income, distressed, marginalized, etc). Thus, a non-profit is primarily accountable to the public, though, like a co-operative, may choose to have a membership to which it is accountable.
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