In 1924, Roy Bergengren, one of the architects of the credit union movement, reflected on what a credit union can do for people.
“The credit union is, in fact, a bridge,” Bergengren wrote in the inaugural issue of “The Bridge,” the official newsletter of the American credit union movement, which was then in its infancy. “It may be the bridge over which the tenant farmer travels the wide gap that separates him from ownership. It may be the way that opens the great land of opportunity to the wage worker, who finds his savings the ‘open sesame’ to broader possibilities for himself and his family.”
Twenty-four years later in 1948, credit unions in America, and later around the world, began celebrating the philosophy and achievements of credit unions every year on the third Thursday in October. For International Credit Union Day 2020, we’re celebrating the idea of inspiring hope in our global community by empowering our members through financial services and education.
One way we do this is through member giveback. Our annual scholarship program helps Central Texas students with college expenses, and in 2020, 50 individuals were awarded a total of $100,000. We’ve also helped our members earn over $10 million in Cash-Back Checking rewards since 2007. All of this doesn’t include the hundreds of hours volunteered and thousands of dollars we have given back to our communities in numerous ways.
This is because, unlike other financial institutions, credit unions are not-for-profit; their primary purpose isn’t to score record profits in order to cut distant shareholders bigger dividends checks. Rather, the primary purpose of credit unions is – and always has been – to be of service to their members. That means you.
This people-first philosophy doesn’t just mean better service, it translates into a better financial deal for consumers. Credit unions, on average, offer higher rates of return on savings accounts, lower rates on loans, and fewer and lower fees than other financial institutions.
So today we celebrate credit unions like ours and how as an industry we help consumers and communities. Happy International Credit Union Day!