Celebrating CU Uniqueness

Take advantage of opportunities this fall to show your pride in the movement.

October 2, 2012

I have three dates circled in red on my fall calendar: Oct. 8, Oct. 18, and Nov. 5.

Credit unions should circle them on their calendars, too. Here’s why: These dates present three opportunities where credit unions, as cooperatives, can brandish their very best to current and potential members. These three days are:

1.Oct. 8: The First International Summit of Cooperatives, in Quebec City, Canada. I will be there, along with cooperators from around the world, to mark the International Year of Cooperatives.

I’m excited to be part of this program, which also includes my counterpart at the World Council of Credit Unions, President/CEO Brian Branch.

The Summit gives us the chance to display the uniqueness of America’s credit unions—arguably among the most successful cooperatives in the world.

But it’s also another opportunity to celebrate the uniqueness of cooperatives themselves.

In fact, the organizers of the Summit have rightly noted “cooperatives have clearly demonstrated they’re resilient and relevant, and, therefore, part of the solution in establishing a more solid economic and financial system. More and more, the cooperative formula is seen as a solution that is not only durable but contemporary.”

I absolutely agree, particularly with regard to financial services and the role credit unions play. As the International Year of Cooperatives winds down, credit unions—as cooperatives—still have an opportunity to demonstrate they play an important role in focusing on human need, not human greed.

2.Oct. 18: International Credit Union (ICU) Day. This year, the theme is “Members Matter Most”—something we all know, but a point that must be underscored for everyone who is not (yet) part of our movement.

This will be the 65th annual celebration of ICU Day. Across our country and on Capitol Hill credit unions will join in a number of activities, such as:

3. Nov. 5: The anniversary of Bank Transfer Day. Hard to believe it’s been a year since consumers, galvanized by the actions of big banks when they raised fees, turned to credit unions around the nation for a better deal. Ultimately in 2011 more than 1.3 million consumers became members. That’s more than twice the number who joined credit unions the previous year.

But shouldn’t every day be Bank Transfer Day?

Some credit union folks from South Carolina see it just that way. Early this year, they encouraged CUNA to copyright the phrase “Every Day is Bank Transfer Day,” which we did and made available to credit unions at no charge. (In this way, credit unions can control the phrase to the benefit of consumers, rather than allow some other entity to get its hands on it.)

There’s even a website (, a Facebook page (BTDNOW) for credit unions to befriend, and a Twitter hashtag (#BTDNOW) credit unions can use in their tweets.

This is a grassroots movement, much as “Bank Transfer Day” was last year when Kristen Christian first launched her Facebook page.

And, certainly, our national credit union locater—, which is visited by thousands daily, including those searching for a credit union they’re eligible to join—is a key tool to help consumers realize every day is Bank Transfer Day.

No doubt, your calendar is similar to mine and you have plenty to do already just running your credit unions. But if time allows, take advantage of these three opportunities in the fall—and take pride in being part of a movement that offers the best choice in financial services.

BILL CHENEY is CUNA’s president/CEO.