Cooperative Governance Research Initiative FAQ

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What does participating in the Cooperative Governance Research Initiative entail?

In 2021, participating in the study simply involves completing our 30 minute online survey on behalf of your cooperative.

One of the survey questions also asks if you would be interested in participating in a follow-up interview by Zoom or phone in early 2022 in order to describe your cooperatives’ governance practices in your own words.

How long does the survey take?

For most people the online survey takes 30 minutes or less, although completion time varies because it is customized based on each cooperatives’ industry, membership structure, and other characteristics.

Who’s the best person at my cooperative to complete the survey?

We designed the CGRI questionnaire with the CEO, general manager, or board president in mind but people in many different roles can share responsibility for the governance function of their cooperative. Each cooperative should choose the person best positioned to complete the survey based on their knowledge of governance practices, time, and inclination.

I’d like CGRI communications to go to a different person in my cooperative – what should I do?

Please send email to with the name, email, title, and phone number of the person you’d like to receive CGRI communications on behalf of your cooperative.

How did the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives get my contact information?

We asked members of our CGRI Advisory Committee, which includes organizations from across the cooperative community, to share their member lists (see our Advisory Committee members on our website). We compiled these lists and then added cooperatives in UWCC’s database to create a master list from which we selected the survey sample.

Why was my cooperative selected into the survey sample?

We selected enterprises that met the following criteria into the survey sample:

  • Cooperatives, credit unions, and mutual insurance companies that are owned and democratically controlled by the members who use their services
  • Enterprises that are currently operational
  • Credit unions with total assets of at least $10m (we randomly selected half of all credit unions with between $10 and $50 million in assets and selected those with assets of $50 million and above with certainty)

My organization is a mutual insurance company – are we eligible to participate in the survey?

Yes! We define a cooperative as an enterprise that is owned and democratically controlled by the members who use their services. This includes cooperatives, credit unions, and mutual insurance companies.

How do you define “currently operational”?

We define “currently operational” as actively engaged in doing business and ask that you use your judgement to self-identify. Some potential metrics for being currently operational include a physical space, paid staff, and meeting the needs of your members.

What is the deadline to complete the survey?

At this point we plan to close the survey on December 10. If your cooperative needs more time, however, please email us at and we are happy to extend the deadline for you!

Why do you ask about gender, race, and other characteristics of board members? Can I skip these questions?

First, we want to understand how well cooperative boards reflect their members. Secondly, research on conventional corporations shows that boards with a broad range of skills and backgrounds that represent diverse stakeholders make better decisions (for example, see Adams and Ferreira’s 2009 article, “Women in the boardroom and their impact on governance and performance”) but comparable studies have not yet been done on these dynamics in cooperatives. We also understand that some cooperatives do not wish to share this information and respondents may skip these questions as needed.

I didn’t receive my REI gift card – what should I do?

The first 300 participants in the survey will receive an REI gift card via an email with the subject line “Your REI Gift Card” from within one week of completing the survey.

To inquire about whether that includes you, please email

When will findings be available?

We plan to share preliminary findings at a webinar hosted by the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International in January 2022. Our final report will be published later in the spring.

For additional questions and inquiries please contact the study team at