Principle #3: Member's Economic Participation

The third of the 7 Cooperative Principles for Credit Unions is the principle of members’ economic participation.

“Economic participation” might sound like a mouthful, but it’s pretty simple. Basically, a credit union gets money from its members and then loans the money out to other members.  The more members participate, the more there is to go around.  It’s kind of like the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its individual parts, or like how the chemistry of a team can make it even better than the skill level of the players individually. Credit unions follow a “people helping people” philosophy from the way they treat members to the way rates are decided.

Member participation leads to better rates and fees than a bank typically offers.  Plus, when there’s a surplus it often gets returned to member in the form of a dividend after appropriate reserves have been set aside - because members are owners rather than just customers. Credit unions don’t have any outside stockholders; they exist because of and for the benefit of their members. That’s a unique position in the financial industry, and a story your employees should know how to tell.

Most credit unions are pretty good at communicating about their rates and service, but it may help your employees do their jobs more effectively if they understand the “why” as well.

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