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Credit Unions Celebrate the Authentic Difference
Tuesday, October 4, 2016 6:40 AM

Cheryl Sayers, Director, Training Remote Transaction Resources, Credit Union Resources

There's a date to celebrate almost anything. We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, holidays, and special milestones we've reached throughout our lives.

On the third Thursday in October, credit unions have their own special occasion to celebrate: International Credit Union Day. Every year, we take this day to look at our accomplishments and share them with our membership and communities, locally and across the globe. Fundraisers are done, an open house at your credit union is held, membership drawings for prizes are offered, and the community gets involved. On this day above all others, we create awareness of our credit union difference and what we have to offer.

This year we celebrate International Credit Union Day on Oct. 20, and our theme is “The Authentic Difference.” The World Council of Credit Unions offers posters and logos that you can download and use in your electronic and print communications.

Credit unions got their start in early 19th century Europe by farmers faced with crop failure and famine that devastated their communities. They created a pool of funds to use and made loans to each other. That good will and caring for our communities has lasted all these years, and we've expanded our outreach. As they say, we've come a long way baby!

Credit unions of today offer the perfect package for our membership. This includes multiple types of loans, share accounts, and investments opportunities. Originally, it was automated phone systems like “Star Teller,” then ATM and debit cards to credit cards. Direct deposit from employers, retirement systems, and others means no lost checks in the mail.

We now give our membership more options for accessing their accounts such as online banking and SPRIG. Members can sit at home in their PJs to pay bills and move money between their accounts and those of others, or even make a deposit by check using a mobile device—just by taking a picture of it.

We, as a cooperative, share our locations with each other to offer more than 5,000 branches to our membership via Shared Branching to do basic account transactions. What a valuable resource, which makes us more than competitive with banks.

As you are well aware, the credit union philosophy is “People helping people.” We are the real deal:  "not-for-profit, member-owned, financial cooperatives. Let's own that in a big way on Oct. 20, 2016. Credit unions, their employees, and volunteers will all celebrate our history, accomplishments, and advancements with more than 217 million credit union members across the globe.

Indeed, we have come a long way, baby. Be proud, say it loud; credit unions are the Authentic Difference!