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The authentic difference

On October 20, 2016, credit unions around the world will celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day).

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, offering the same services as other financial institutions, but with a people-first philosophy.

“The Authentic Difference,” this year’s ICU Day theme, zeroes in on what makes credit unions different from banks, fintech startups and other financial institutions—our principles.  Credit unions have operated according to the same core principles since the 1850s, when a group of weary German workers, tired of being exploited by loan sharks, formed the world’s first credit union by banding together to provide affordable credit to each other.

These principles are based on the 7 cooperative principles, shared by all cooperatives. They are:

  1. Democratic Control:  One member, one vote. Whether you have $5 or $5 million, your voice is equal.
  2. Open and Voluntary Membership:  Members are connected by a bond of association, fostering a sense of community.
  3. Non-Discrimination:  Credit unions are open to all without regard for race, orientation, nationality, sex, religion, gender, or politics.
  4. Service to Members:  Credit unions are ranked No. 1 in service in numerous surveys, because they exist to serve members, not profit.
  5. Distribution to Members:  Credit unions return all profits to their members through dividends, lower fees, better savings rates, and improved services.
  6. Building Financial Stability:  Credit unions are historically stable organizations. They’re owned by the people they serve, so they don’t take unnecessary risks.
  7. Cooperation Among Cooperatives:  Credit unions and cooperatives share the same principles. Together, they amplify each other’s good works.
  8. Social Responsibility:  Credit unions strive for social justice by committing to strengthening their communities and helping people of modest means.
  9. Ongoing Education:  Credit unions prioritize financial education for their members, employees, and communities as part of their pursuit of social justice.

This is why we celebrate ICU Day at White Sands Federal Credit Union. Because putting people before profit, prioritizing social responsibility, and offering financial education improves lives. These values are why cooperative banking is a key component of helping people in developing countries gain access to microloans, or a middle-class couple in Las Cruces receive an affordable mortgage for their first home.

So when we wish you a Happy ICU Day at White Sands FCU, know that we’re thanking you for belonging to a movement that’s helping your neighbors—and people around the world—grow and thrive and follow their dreams.