Home > Credit Union Philosophy > How do credit unions adhere to their founding mission?

Question: Credit unions were originally formed by working people who decided to pool their financial resources so that they are their co-workers had access to small, short-term loans. Credit unions have greatly expanded both their membership and the services they offer … do they still adhere to their founding mission or have they become “banks?”

Answer: When credit unions were introduced, they effectively met the needs of their members at that time. In the years since, technology has made the world a smaller place, financial services have expanded, and members’ financial needs have increased. Because credit unions have traditionally served occupational groups, most credit union members have always been working people with stable incomes. Credit union members tend to come from the middle class, and are often married couples with both spouses employed.

The definition of basic financial services has changed since the 1930s. Today’s consumer needs more than passbook savings. When credit unions were established in this country, most people had low incomes; and most financial institutions — banks included — were smaller and offered limited services. Many financial services have only been invented in the last 20 to 30 years. Credit unions, like other financial institutions, have broadened their scope in order to remain competitive, but remain true to their mission of not-for-profit, cooperative service, as Congress has reaffirmed each time it has considered our tax exemption.
 

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