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How & Why You Should Become A Co-op Member

Updated: Jun 4, 2020

Boise Acupuncture Co-op is a 501c3 non-profit that operates as a cooperative with a sociocratic governance.

Why is BAC a cooperative?

We sought a cooperative structure to maintain balance within the business and share in the responsibilities. Multi-stake holder co-ops were the main inspiration. With multi-stake holder cooperatives, each party of a business has a say and by doing this, balances the needs of each party. You will most commonly see these types of co-ops within smaller agricultural businesses. In the case of BAC, at the start, we identified three main groups that have a “stake” in BAC; employees, volunteers, and patients. Each of them derive a different benefit from the clinic operating optimally, at least on a tangible level. (Of course there are emotional levels too.) To break it down, employees get a paycheck. They need to have a large enough paycheck to stay at BAC and not go elsewhere for employment. Volunteers gain community and often free services. They need to have a good work environment or they will not want to continue to volunteer. They also need quality services or they may not be motivated to volunteer. Lastly, patients want a quality service at an affordable price at accessible times. 

The balance comes from employees setting the price point where they can earn a living though not a killing. If they set the price point too high, patients will not come in. Patients want the price low, but if it is too low, the clinic will not be able to maintain employing their acupuncturists and therefore the quality of the service will be eliminated. Everyone’s needs are met but kept in check by the other’s needs.

Why would you want to be a member? 

You do not need to be a co-op member to be a patient at BAC. 

Just by coming into the clinic you are a “member” of our patient population and we are always seeking feedback from our patient population. We value your voice. Our co-op Members (with a capital M) enjoy having more say in the vision and oversight of the clinic by having a voice at our board meetings and a vote in the board member elections. Please note that attendance at meetings is not required, simply appreciated. By voting on the board members, you can help steer BAC’s future since our board members are a group of volunteers that oversee BAC operations and make sure we are maintaining our vision and mission. As a Member, you are able to be more involved and experience the power of the cooperative structure directly. Additionally, it is pretty cool to feel a deeper part of your clinic community.

BAC is a part of something larger. 

We are a member of the national organization POCA (People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture). As clinic members and professional members of this organization, we receive many benefits from being in communication with other clinics like BAC around the country. POCA’s intention is to share the wealth of knowledge that has accumulated in the 20 years of community acupuncture practice. In BAC’s startup, we received help with writing our business plan, coming up with our budget and operating agreement, and assessing what sort of physical clinic we would need. Further down our path, we were aided in writing our by-laws and applying to become a non-profit, which is a 30 page application and several hundred dollars, so help was greatly appreciated! BAC now gives back to POCA when we can and so our co-op membership is tied to theirs and your membership fees help to support this organization. Without POCA, BAC would not be here as it is.

How do you become a member?

To become a member is pretty simple. You sign up to become a member of POCA. You can do this through their website:

This is an annual membership with a sliding fee structure that you will need to renew, and when you do you will enjoy the benefits each year!

As a POCA member you will also enjoy:

  • a free birthday treatment each year (which you can redeem at any POCA clinic)

  • three (3) free treatment cards to hand out to your friends (so you can be super popular) good at any POCA clinic

  • waived new patient fees at any POCA clinic

  • access to online discussion forums

  • voting in POCA’s annual board elections. 

So get involved! Become a member today!


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