The Seven Cooperative Principles

Credit unions are financial cooperatives and, like cooperatives around the world, they generally operate according to the same seven core principles and values adopted in 1995 by the International Cooperative Alliance. Cooperatives can trace their roots to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England, in 1844.

These principles, along with the cooperative purpose of improving quality of life for their members, make credit union different from other financial institutions.

1. Voluntary Membership

Credit unions are voluntary, cooperative organizations, offering services to people willing to accept the responsibilities and benefits of membership, without gender, social, racial, political, or religious discrimination.

We operate as not-for-profit institutions with volunteer boards of directors. Members are drawn from defined fields of membership.

2. Democratic Member Control

Credit Unions are democratic organizations owned and controlled by their members. One member equals one vote, with equal opportunity for participation in setting policies and making decisions. 

3. Members’ Economic Participation

Members are the owners. They contribute to, and democratically control, the capital of the credit union.

Credit unions typically offer better rates, fees, and service than for-profit financial institutions, so members recognize benefits in proportion to their financial transactions and general usage.

4. Autonomy and Independence

Credit Unions are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members.

5. Education, Training, and Information

Credit unions provide education and training for members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the cooperative.

Credit unions place particular importance on educational opportunities for their volunteer directors, and financial education for their members.

6. Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Credit unions serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, state, regional, national, and international structures.

7. Concern for Community

While focusing on member needs, credit unions work for the sustainable development of communities, including people of modest means, through policies developed and accepted by the members.

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