The primary measure of a co-op's success is its ability to meet the needs of the members. Not-for-profit cooperatives are owned, operated and controlled by local members, so the board makes decisions to accommodate the best interests of the membership. Local directors have a personal investment in assuring the cooperative is meeting the needs of the community. In addition to electric service, electric co-ops are deeply involved in their communities promoting development and revitalization projects, small businesses, job creation, improvement of water and sewer systems and assistance in delivery of health care and educational services. At its best, a cooperative does not differentiate between itself and members – they are one and the same.
In Iowa, 650,000 people receive power from electric cooperatives. In the nation, more than 100 million people are members of 47,000 cooperatives, enabling consumers to secure a wide array of goods and services such as health care, insurance, housing, food, heating fuel, hardware, credit unions, child care and utility services.