International Credit Union Day 2012, on 18 October, is truly a time to celebrate – as credit unions (CUs) have increased their annual new-member base at the fastest rate in over a decade.
Figures from Credit Union National Association (CUNA) explained how nearly 2.2 million people joined credit unions in the US. In the UK, according to the All Parliamentary Party Group on CUs, there are over one million people using CUs, with 12,000 junior savers.
With so many people joining CUs, it seems only fitting that the theme this year is ‘Members Matter Most’.
"Members are the heart of the credit union system. This year's theme speaks perfectly to the sentiment all staff carry through on every day," said Bill Cheney, CUNA president and CEO. "Further, it differentiates credit unions from other financial institutions as member-owned financial cooperatives. At credit unions, members matter most."
CUs have received a boost this year due to 2012 being named the International Year of Co-operatives and also the publicity surrounding Bank Transfer Day in the US, a movement encouraging people to move their money to credit unions or community banks on 5 November.
CUNA are also aksing CUs to share their own celebrations by logging on here.
Jennifer Bernhardt, Communications Manager at the World Council of Credit Unions said: “Credit unions have been given an international stage to showcase what they have always done: meet the needs of their members first and foremost.”
Kristen Christian, the founder of Bank Transfer Day, explained: “The democratic structure and people serving people mission that financial co-operatives put into practice every day fosters economic sustainability and strong local communities. One day simply isn't enough to thank these fine folks for all of their hard work!”
She added that for ICU Day: “I'll be paying a visit to Coast Hills Federal Credit Union to thank them for their continued efforts year round to serve the community that made me the woman I am today.”
CUs across the world will be celebrating the day and expressing what makes this business unique.
“CU Day is a great opportunity each year for credit unions to raise their members’ awareness about the values and philosophy that distinguish credit unions from other financial institutions,” said Mark Wolff, from CUNA. “We are not only in our communities, we are of our communities. And member service, not profit-making, is paramount.”
Young & Free, a project encouraging young people to use CUs in the US and Canada have released a special video for the occasion.
In the UK, CU leaders and members of the APPG on CUs attended a special celebration in Westminster on Wednesday for the ICU Day.
Damian Hinds MP, Chair of APPG on CUs said in his speech: “Credit unions are a movement, and are certainly on the move. Too many of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in society find themselves in a seemingly never-ending trap of debt, from which it is difficult to break out.
"Credit Unions can play a truly vital role – and in future a much bigger one – in offering an alternative, bringing responsible lending, encouraging saving and basically supporting families. This is a very exciting time for credit unions and a real inflexion point. No truly exciting ride is every a totally smooth one.
"The growth potential is enormous, and this World Credit Unions Day gives us a timely reminder of the full scale of that potential.”
CUNA have created a special website so people can find the CU that suits them: http://www.asmarterchoice.org/
Across the world there are 51,000 Credit Unions with 196,000,000 Members over 100 Countries.
ICU Day happens on 3 October of every year – it began in 1948.
If you want to know more about International Credit Union Day then go to: http://www.woccu.org/events/icuday/
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