The dust has finally settled on the holidays and we are rolling into 2020. It is a new year, a new decade, an election year, and it is going to be the best year ever! Right? Well, I have a couple New Year’s resolutions for you and your credit union to help you make the roaring twenties a huge success.
New Year’s resolutions are tricky, we go into them with the very best of intentions, but life gets in the way and we rarely stick to them. Usually, by the end of the year I can’t even remember them anymore. But you know what? I still think they are worth it. We should be consistently evaluating, evolving, and improving.
The Cooperative Principles have laid out the plan, (if you are not familiar with the Cooperative Principles check them out here: https://www.cuanswers.com/products/coop/) but it is our job to put them into action. So I have created this list of seven simple steps to encourage you and your credit union to live the cooperative spirit.
Step one: voluntary and open membership
Be a voluntary organization, open to all people able to use your service and whom are willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination. Encourage your credit union staff to remind anyone and everyone they know that your credit union wants and accepts new members! I suggest making a universal social media post that you and your credit union can share, welcoming new members.
Step two: democratic member control
You are a democratic organization controlled by your members. Those who use your goods and services every day and who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. This one is simple, go to a board meeting and encourage your staff and members to go to a board meeting too! Don’t settle for the bare minimum at your annual meeting either. Encourage people to vote and have a voice. Everyone should know and see your democratic process; it will make your credit union better.
Step three: members’ economic participation
Members contribute equally to, and democratically control, the capital of your credit union. This benefits members in proportion to the business they conduct and the credit union rather than on the capital invested. Simply put, it’s not about simply investing, it’s about making things better for everyone through economic participation. In the coming year, make a point of sharing with your staff and members that they are not just putting money in an account; they are participating in improving the credit union and the lives of everyone choosing to participate! Working together is always rewarding.
Step four: autonomy and independence
Your credit union is autonomous, a self-help organization controlled by your members. If you enter into agreements with other organizations or raise capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by your members and maintains the credit union’s autonomy. Remember to tell yourself this year that no matter how many vendors, partners, etc. want to work with your credit union, that your autonomy and control must safeguard that your members’ interests come first.
Step five: education, training, and information
Your credit union provides education and training for your members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of your credit union. Members also inform the general public about the nature and benefits of credit unions. What are you doing to educate your staff and members? Make a plan this year. Your credit union deserves it. I suggest that you post something to social media once a month that shares with your members and community about the benefits of being a part of your credit union.
Step six: cooperation among cooperatives
You serve your members most effectively and strengthen the credit union movement by working together through local, regional, national, and international structures. Make it a goal to this year to talk to, partner with, and learn from other cooperatives. Credit unions and other cooperatives are doing cool things – things that would benefit your credit union too.
Step seven: concern for community
While focusing on members’ needs, work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by your members. Your credit union is just a small piece of your community, but you can have a huge impact. Make a resolution this year to affect your community more than ever. I suggest you look at how you are serving your younger student-aged generations and find new and exciting ways to help them in their financial journey.