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TruMark Financial Blog
July 25, 2019

The seven cooperative principles still apply to credit unions today

Ellise Ortiz, public relations specialist at TruMark Financial and Montgomery Chapter representative, won the title of 2019 Credit Union Ambassador at the PCUA Connect Conference. Ortiz spoke on how the seven principles of the credit union movement still apply today after 175 years. Here’s what she had to say:

Did you know that the seven cooperative principles developed 175 years ago?

The story started in 1844 when a group of pioneers in England, the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, came together and developed a non-profit member-owned organization. Their mission was simple and similar to the credit union movement. These pioneers wanted to provide food and clothing to their community at a much lower cost, and any profit made from this was then reinvested in the cooperative. Credit unions live by these principles every single day as illustrated below.

Principle #1: Voluntary and open membership

This mean acceptance, without gender, social, or racial discrimination. Membership is open to all who are able to use the cooperative’s services.

Principle #2: Democratic member control

This is equality – one member, one vote. Cooperatives are democratic member-controlled organizations. Members of cooperatives have equal voting rights, regardless of the amount invested or deposited.

Principle #3: Member’s economic participation

Members are owners and as owners, they contribute and control the capital of the cooperative. The more people who join, the more the cooperative can give back. Credit unions give back to their members through higher dividends on shares and lower interest rates on loans.

Principle #4: Autonomy and independence

This reflects back on our membership: cooperatives are member-owned organizations, independent from self-interested shareholders.

Principle #5: Education, training, and information

Cooperatives offer educational resources to their members, employees, officials, and the public. Many credit unions provide seminars, financial literacy presentations, and interactive financial reality fairs.

Principle #6: Cooperation among cooperatives

This means support from one another. Cooperatives work together to strengthen each other. Credit unions work together to provide the tools for growth, knowledge, and member service.

Principle #7 Concern for community

This is caring for our neighbors by volunteering and making an impact in the community. Credit unions are community-minded organizations contributing to the development of their communities by offering financial or volunteer support.

These same principles apply today in the credit union movement just as they did with the first cooperative in 1844. Today, 175 years later, many credit unions use the seven cooperative principles as part of their mission to serve their members. Credit unions live by these principles; it is what sets them apart from all other financial institutions. The seven cooperative principles went around the world and developed people working together to achieve a better life for their community, just like the credit union movement. These principles are a part of who credit unions have been in the past, who they are in the present, and who they will continue to be in the future. Truly credit union philosophy in action!