The main features of a cooperative society are listed below:
- Voluntary Membership: Membership of a cooperative society is voluntary. A person can join a cooperative society, and can also leave the society, anytime as per his will. There is no compulsion for a person to join or quit a society. Although as per procedure, a member is required to give a notice before leaving the society, he is not forced to remain a member. Membership is open to all, irrespective of their religion, caste, and gender.
- Legal Status: Registration of a cooperative society is mandatory. This allocates a separate identity to the society that is distinct from its members. This society can therefore enter into contracts thereby, hold property in its name, sue and be sued by others. Being a separate legal entity, it is not affected by the joining or withdrawal of its members.
- Limited Liability: The liability of the members of a cooperative society is limited to the extent of the amount invested by them as capital. This holds the maximum risk a member can bear.
- Control: In a cooperative society, the power of decision making lies in the hands of an elected managing committee. They have the right to vote that gives the members a chance to choose the members who can constitute the managing committee which lends the cooperative society a democratic character.
- Service Motive: The cooperative society through its objectives lays emphasis on the values of mutual aid and welfare. Therefore, the motive of service dominates its working. In the case of surplus being generated due of its operations, it is distributed amongst the members as dividend in compliance with the bye-laws of the society. Cooperative is a form of organisation in which persons voluntarily associate themselves together on the basis of equality for the promotion of an economic interest for themselves.