As we prepare to celebrate International Credit Union Day for the 72nd consecutive year on Thursday, October 15—it is important to recognize that this might indeed be the most important ICU Day celebration ever.
While our movement has never been stronger, credit union members in every corner of the globe have also never needed our support and inspiration more than they do right now.
World Council of Credit Unions’ 2019 Statistical Report shows our movement began 2020 with more than 291 million credit union members worldwide. That number represents a 59% growth in credit union membership over the past decade (2010-19).
At World Council, our mission is to improve lives through credit unions and other financial cooperatives. And we know that growth is rooted in the credit union belief that all people should have access to affordable, reliable and sustainable financial services.
But improving lives has taken on new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of focusing solely on tools and products that can spread financial inclusion and wellbeing, credit unions had to start providing tools to protect their members—not just financially, but physically as well.
We’ve seen examples from six continents of how credit unions have stepped up to the challenge. They’ve ensured their branch lobbies were safe and hygienic by limiting hours of service, reducing the number of members that can be inside at one time, installing plexiglass guards between employees and members, and providing hand sanitizer stations.
Nearly all financial cooperatives either extended interest-free emergency loans or provided loan payment moratoriums to members who lost their sources of income. Many credit unions moved to ensure greater safety and convenience by boosting their level of digital services—allowing members to access their accounts and make payments right from their laptop or mobile device.
And still more went the extra mile—distributing personal protective equipment to frontline healthcare workers, money to local non-profit organizations and even food to the needy. One credit union in Guatemala even went so far as to disinfect parts of their community’s public spaces to stop the spread of the virus.
Here at World Council, we’ve been amazed by such generosity of spirit—and were inspired to do our part. We’ve provided educational webinars for our members’ credit unions, advocated on their behalf for relief measures from international standard setting bodies, and even distributed masks, gloves and hand sanitizer generously donated by the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions and the National Credit Union Federation of Korea.
Tell your story on October 15
Why do I bring all this up? Because there are people outside of our movement who still haven’t heard these stories. They haven’t heard about how we have been saying thank you to the members who have grown our movement by giving back to them during the COVID-19 crisis.
That is why we are asking all of you to share those stories on International Credit Union Day 2020. Record a short video this week explaining how your credit union or organization is “inspiring hope for a global community” during this pandemic by helping employees, members or your local communities. Then, post it on Thursday to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn—and tag it with #ICUDay and #CUDifference.
We have joined forces with the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, CUNA, the National Credit Union Foundation and PSCU to be on the lookout for those videos throughout the day on October 15. When we spot them, we’ll share them to flood social media with stories about how our credit unions continue to stand apart from other institutions in the financial services industry by always putting member wellbeing first—even in the most challenging times.
The Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions and the National Credit Union Foundation are also spearheading an initiative for credit unions to share their impact and make an impact through giving. We hope you will consider supporting their collaborative effort to improve the financial lives of credit union members across the globe.