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How the 7 Co-operative Principles Shape Your Credit Union Experience

Did you know that October is National CO-OP Month! Co-operatives are businesses owned and run by and for their members. Whether the members are the customers, employees or residents they have an equal say in what the business does and a share in the profits.

Credit unions have been putting their values into practice by following the 7 co-operative principles for centuries. This sets credit unions apart from all other financial institutions, strengthens the community and benefits you too!

Principle-11. Voluntary and open membership
Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

WHAT I T M E A N S TO YOU
No matter what your financial situation looks like, the door is open, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

Principle-22. Democratic member control
Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. Members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote).

WHAT I T M E A N S TO YOU
You help call the shots by electing a board of directors. One member equals one vote. This is local democracy in action.

Principle-33. Member economic participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on the capital subscribed as a condition of membership.

Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

WHAT I T M E A N S TO YOU
Better rates, lower fees and services that benefit the entire credit union. The more that members participate, the more there is to go around.

Principle-44. Autonomy and independence
Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and that maintain their co-operative autonomy.

WHAT I T M E A N S TO YOU
As a financial co-operative, your credit union is controlled by real members like you, instead of outside shareholders.

Principle-55. Education, training and information
Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public— particularly young people and opinion leaders—about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

WHAT I T M E A N S TO YOU
Access to financial literacy tools and resources. Credit unions believe that education contributes to personal growth.

Principle-66. Co-operation among co-operatives
Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

WHAT I T M E A N S TO YOU
Your credit union strengthens the co-operative movement by partnering with organizations that share the same important values.

Principle-77. Concern for community
Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

WHAT I T M E A N S TO YOU
Knowing that your day-to-day banking translates into benefits for charities, local businesses and the entire community.

But for those of you who don’t know what a co-op is, or how it’s different from any other small to medium-sized business, here’s a very quick animated primer:

Moral of the story: CO-OP is just a fancy word for people helping people, so support the cooperatives in your community today!

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