Caroline Willard

Cornerstone League's Willard: Cooperation sets CUs apart

February 10, 2023

Credit unions' unique structure sets them apart and makes their impact stronger, Cornerstone League President/CEO Caroline Willard wrote in CUInsight

"It is important to remember that credit unions themselves also have a crucial role to play in cooperation among cooperatives. By returning to their roots, reconnecting with their origin story, and opening their hearts and doors to the knowledge that guides us, credit unions can advance their communities in a more effective and impactful way. To paraphrase Curl, credit unions can recirculate wealth locally," she wrote. 

"As credit union champions, it is important for us to remember the core values and principles that make the cooperative movement so special. In a world where banks dominate the financial services sector, it is easy to fall into the trap of head-to-head competition as I once did," she adds. "In setting ourselves apart by amplifying the competitive differentiation that the cooperative structure gives us, we rise above and heed our original calling: to help people."

Willard encouraged credit union leaders to "prominently feature" the benefits of cooperatives in their advertising materials and website. This includes highlighting access, business sustainability, community commitment, democratic governance, inclusion, financial security, and advancement for workers, and growth.

"Let’s embrace the cooperative principles and work together to create a better world for our communities. Let’s not lose sight of the unique and valuable asset that the cooperative structure offers us," she wrote.