July 6, 2012
Recognizing how cooperatives respond to social change and drive economies, the UN has declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives. And tomorrow, midway through the year, is International Day of Cooperatives.
Credit union leaders around the world are joining with the UN to raise public awareness about the contributions co-ops have made to reduce poverty, generate employment and integrate societies.
“Credit unions are financial cooperatives. This year gives us a chance to refocus on what they are all about,” says Deb McLean, CUES member and VP/marketing/business development at $81 million Carolina Postal Credit Union in Charlotte, N.C., with 8,000 members.
For example, credit unions in North and South Carolina have partnered with the Democratic National Convention Committee to create a rooftop garden and playground at the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C. These projects recognize the work co-ops are doing to celebrate the International Year of Cooperatives and share with the community a place to hang out.
Creating something that can be left behind to benefit communities is just one way credit unions are working to shed light on the International Year of Cooperatives.
McLean has also used this year to really focus on the Seven Cooperative Principles, sharing them with her members via Facebook and Twitter.
“This year is helping me refocus and re-educate members, and let them know that we are part of a family,” says McLean.
Raising Awareness While Raising Money
Members of Canada’s National Young Leaders Committee are raising money for the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada’s Build a Better World campaign, whose goal is to raise $12 million in four years for global cooperative development.
“If 300 credit unions in Canada were to raise $1,000 each, then we are already at $300,000,” explains Jodi Chambers, a CUES member and director/business excellence at $3 billion Assiniboine Credit Union, with 100,000 members, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The National Young Leaders Committee created ‘I love my CU’ T-shirts as a way to show support. When others in the industry started asking about them, the group decided to use the shirts as a fundraiser for the Build a Better World campaign. For each shirt purchased, the group donates $10. Currently the group has raised close to $10,000.
“We want people to wear the shirt on International Credit Union Day on Oct. 18, 2012,” says Chambers. “We want people to recognize the role credit unions play in building a sustainable community.”
The International Year of Cooperatives is meant to raise awareness of cooperatives, promote growth, and establish appropriate policies for the formation, growth and stability of cooperatives. As its slogan states: Cooperative enterprises build a better world. This is the impact co-ops—and credit unions—have on communities.
“Take time to understand what co-ops do locally and internationally,” says Chambers.
Lauren Etter is a CUES editorial intern who studies communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis.