International Credit Union Day: A Brief History

This week, Educators Credit Union, along with other credit unions worldwide, is celebrating International Credit Union Day. The third Thursday of October has been dedicated to honoring credit unions and all of their members since its inception in 1948. It highlights the active role credit unions play in the financial wellness of communities across the globe and also reflects on the importance of the financial movement’s history and principals.

This year’s theme, Dreams Thrive Here, illustrates how credit unions passionately serve members while they work hard to make their dreams a reality. Unlike other financials that function as “for-profit,” credit unions have a “people helping people” foundation. This means that every credit union’s first and only focus is to provide affordable financial services for every member, a principle that will never change.

For more than 100 years, credit unions have been providing exceptional financial services to their members in the United States, but that’s not where credit unions first came about. In 1850, organized by Herman Schulze-Delitzsch and Friedrich Raiffeisen, credit unions took root in Germany, but then soon to follow was the first credit union in America in 1909. The principals that began with these credit unions are the same in 2017:

  • Democratic governance
  • Each member has a vote, no matter the size of their deposits
  • Voluntary board of directors elected by members

During the 1920s and 30s, the U.S. credit union movement was spreading like wildfire. Credit unions even fared well throughout the Great Depression and were formed afterward to fill the void of shuttered banks. Throughout the 40s, 50s and 60s, credit unions remained growing steadily, and membership amounted to 6 million members belonging to more than 10,000 federal credit unions. U.S. credit unions grew substantially in the 1970s and doubled in membership and assets tripled to more than $65 billion. The 1980s and 90s brought about even more growth. By 2008 and 2009, U.S. credit unions faced unprecedented threats to its stability but remained strong overall during the crisis.

Today the credit union movement has grown to more than 217 million members in 105 countries. Educators Credit Union wants to celebrate International Credit Union Day by hearing from the most vital part of the movement, our members. Stop into any one of our branches on Thursday, Oct. 20 to tell us why you love your credit union. The branches will have sandwich boards with chalk so you can leave your mark to be seen! And we, of course, want to thank you for being loyal members of Educators Credit Union.

Chalk board with writing saying: "I Love Educators Credit Union Because:"

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