Monday, March 21, 2016

The Right to Vote

One of the most often overlooked benefit of being a member of a credit union is the ability to set the strategic direction of your credit union. People first and foremost venture off to find a financial institution that can best meet their needs through products and services. Need a car, align yourself with an organization that provides you financing for this purchase, its very simple. What if the organizations that you dealt with meant something more to you beyond the provision of services? Would you deal with an organization for example that could meet your particular needs but wasn't local, didn't participate in your community, didn't value your business, or really even cared about the relationship with you beyond the original transaction?

I think there is a growing movement of people that look beyond the original transaction with an organization and further evaluate their relationship with the particular organization in question. Most people simply don't buy a car based on its price, they consider warranty, how reliable the service center will be in addressing future problems, basically the after-purchase support. Some people will not buy from organizations that have poor environmental, labor, or services practices.

Assuming that more an more people are following this path, then the credit union movement is in great shape. Credit Unions are governed with the basic values that all of us as humans seek to achieve or experience. Credit Unions promote equality, trust, social responsibility, self-help, openness and care for one-another. Democratically, credit unions provide the opportunity for those that need its services, its members, to elect a board to ensure that the credit union remains true to these values. Unlike other financial institutions that are profit focused as per their capitalist mandate, their users are simply users of the service and have limited opportunity to participate in how their financial institution operates.

So as a member your tasked with selecting a board member who will best represent your interests, beliefs and values in the direction of your credit union. This task is quite important and everyone should exercise their democratic right to make such a decision. Over time more and more people will recognize the value in local ownership of organizations and the benefits of aligning their purchases with an organization that shares similar values. It is fine to select an organization based first on need, but I encourage that extra step of discovering the hidden values of choosing an alternate option.

Take the time to elect your directors, promote your credit union to your friends and family and most importantly recognize that your membership extends beyond your fulfillment to a particular need. Your contribution to your credit union is a contribution to building a better community. Strengthening the credit union movement will translated into greater community initiatives that will improve the lives of many, especially those that you call your neighbors.