The cooperative members and all their (economic, social, cultural) needs represent the ultimate goal of the existence of a cooperative business.
The first principle of the Declaration of cooperative identity (1995) declares the principle of the “open door” all those who apply to it can aspire to the membership status.
Cooperatives however are not “Noah’s Arches” on which, using a language which was dear to Lorenzo Guetti, you can host “boves et oves et universa pecora” (from Latin: oxen and sheep and all cattle). The reference is to the following passage: “credit institutions (and cooperative societies) aren’t for everybody, boves et oves et universa percora, but only for those who have qualities that are demanded by the statute”.
Another extremely clear passage of Guetti’s way of thinking is this: “Not all stones are good for a factory; not all the timber is good for a factory; not everybody who shows up in front of you has the good requisite for being a good member”. In a cooperative the member’s quality must reward quantity.
In order to keep away those people who are motivated solely by private interests, don Lorenzo Guetti stresses that the doors of cooperative business are open “not for everybody” but only “for those who protect their honour and their being gentlemen and loyal and honest people”.
It is thus stated, in the principle of free adhesion, the principle of “chivalry”.
"To be gentlemen, according to the conception of the founder of cooperation in Trentino, implies to be honest, to strive for the common good, without any private interest”. “Sure- continues don Lorenzo - also here there will be “factions”, but ultimately the party of true gentlemen must triumph, and that is a party of those who work for the common good, without any ulterior motives”.
Don Giobatta Panizza (1852-1923), successor of don Lorenzo Guetti, he’ll be FTC president for 21 years until 1919:
Cooperative members are
those who feel in themselves
live powerful and active
the spirit of solidarity that unites us all in a big family
Cooperative members are
those who hold on to their partnership
only because and until they find their individual advantage
In order to have a cooperative that resists and flourish it’s necessary that those who become partners might be able to feel as a living part of it and
might have sufficient spirit of solidarity to be able to sacrifice something of their own to it, when needed.
It’s not enough then to be a member, you have to become a cooperative member
While participating as a speaker to the convention “The member in the cooperation of 2000”, held in Trento in 1996, Stefano Zamagni underlines: “the today’s member is a person who has less economic needs compared to the member of 100 years ago, who died of hunger. Cooperatives have to enhance ambitions: they have to give the solid possibility to members to understand that, as members associated through the cooperative enterprise, they are active players of a process of transformation of the social and economic extension. If the member will feel appreciated, it won’t be anymore someone who executes, gives an initial quote and goes to the meeting once a year”.