October, 2014 is co-op month. More to the point, October 16, 2014 is International Credit Union Day. With Earth Day just passing a friend noted, “So, every other day is what exactly? Non-Earth Day?” As if to say, we should be not littering every other day of the year just like we try not to on Earth Day. In thinking about this I am reminded of the seven cooperative principles that are the foundation on which the credit union industry stands. Of course throughout October we will be reminded of these principles and much will be made of how they are positive guides for providing our members exceptional service. But what about today?
For those working in the credit union industry and certainly for our members who are utilizing our services in their daily lives, it is great to remember that every day is International Credit Union Day. Every time a deposit is made, a purchase is completed and a loan payment is posted the cooperative principles are in action. As a refresher here they are:
- Voluntary Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Members’ Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training and Information
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives
- Concern for Community
At this moment in time, on the heels of a victory in the battle to maintain our tax status and as new payment and financial services products come online and into the market, there is one principle in particular that I feel can be of great benefit put into action on a daily basis. The principle of education, training and information. On this principle the CUNA website states:
Cooperatives provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of the cooperative. Credit unions place particular importance on educational opportunities for their volunteer directors, and financial education for their members and the public, especially the nation’s youth. Credit unions also recognize the importance of ensuring the general public and policy makers are informed about the nature, structure and benefits of cooperatives.
Of course, written out like this, it seems natural. A statement and concept that we can all agree upon and get behind. However when we look at ourselves, how are we doing to support this principle? A small amount of extra time and energy focused on this area can go a long way to building membership, educating elected officials and maintaining a sense of co-operative community and pride within an organization.
Fortunately, there is help and assistance available to credit unions through the myriad of materials and programs developed by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). Year after year NCUF helps educate credit union employees and volunteers on the rich history of our industry and how we can come together around our “Not for profit, but for service” ethos. Of course NCUF also has a variety of programs and tools to educate members on the credit union difference as well as programs on financial literacy for youth.
Each day can be provide an opportunity to practice any and all of the cooperative principles. By taking this attitude, when October comes around we can be not more aware of our core principles but rather enlightened by how they have been positively effecting our industry, institutions and members each day from now until then.
About Daniel A. Mica, LLC (The DMA Group)
Dan Mica, former head of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), established The DMA Group as a means to combine a myriad of experience into a one-stop consultancy. Elected in 1978 to represent Florida’s 11th district in the U.S. House of Representatives, Dan Mica served five terms before beginning what would become more than two decades of work in the world of nonprofits and association management. The DMA Group is a full-service consulting firm, providing the highest level of integrity and service through established practices and decades of experience.