Eligibility Guidelines

General eligibility


CFNE welcomes applications from organizations operated on a cooperative or nonprofit basis.  Applicants must be located within the New England states of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut and Rhode Island or within New York state. If you are not sure whether your co-op or non-profit is eligible for CFNE financing, don’t hesitate to be in touch so a a loan officer can discuss with you further.

Cooperative basis

CFNE considers an organization to operate on a “cooperative” basis if it exhibits most of the following characteristics:

  • its purpose is supportive of the common good;
  • its membership is open to persons who will use its services and accept its responsibilities;
  • its membership policies are not applied to discriminate in any arbitrary or prohibited manner;
  • its activities are broadly participatory by its members;
  • its governance is democratic or based on consensus;
  • its monetary return on invested capital is strictly limited;
  • its earnings are either equitably used with within the organization or distributed on the basis of patronage.
Non-profit basis

To be considered as operating on a “nonprofit” basis an applicant organization must:

  • be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code,
  • not be controlled by or for persons who merely provide equity capital,
  • nor may investors be permitted to realize more than a limited monetary return for the use of their money.
Types of organizations

Eligible recipients of the assistance provided by CFNE encompass the entire spectrum of cooperatives and nonprofits serving basic human needs. These include:

  • consumer-owned co-ops (most food co-ops, housing co-ops, energy co-ops, etc)
  • producer-owned co-ops (artist galleries, most farm and fishery co-ops)
  • worker-owned businesses
  • community service organizations
  • community land trusts
  • 501(c)(3) public charities

Communities can organize cooperatives to meet any of their goods and services needs. The function of CFNE is to encourage and assist this type of community economic development, particularly for organizations that are resource poor but otherwise sound and promising.