Financial Services Co-ops
One-third of the U.S. population belongs to a credit union. Financial cooperatives and credit unions help strengthen the economy and empower people with ownership over their financial institution.
Unlike a traditional bank, account members act as the owners of a co-op credit union. Revenue is returned to members through higher dividends, fewer fees and lower interest rates.
Credit unions are located in almost every congressional district in all 50 states. Since financial co-ops meet the needs of people in rural, underserved communities, they make it possible for millions to achieve significant milestones in life. Without cooperative credit unions, these communities would not have access to capital to buy their first car, first home or start a business.
Key Facts About Financial Co-ops
Cooperative financial institutions are not-for-profit organizations that benefit their member-owners, not stockholders. Some facts about financial co-ops include:
- There are over 100 million credit union members and more than 7,000 credit unions nationwide
- 275,000 people work at credit unions in the U.S.
- Globally, there are over 75,000 credit unions in 109 countries with 260 million members
- Examples of financial co-ops include Navy Federal Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union and PenFed Credit Union.
Financial Cooperatives: Committed to the Seven Cooperative Principles
In 1995, the International Co-operative Alliance adopted the seven cooperative principles. Credit unions operate under these principles to serve the needs of their members:
- Voluntary and inclusive membership: Financial co-ops offer their services to anyone, without discrimination.
- Democratic member control: Each member has an equal opportunity to participate in the co-op’s policies.
- Members’ economic participation: Member-owners benefit from the credit union’s profits.
- Autonomy and independence: Any business deals must not compromise the co-op’s democratic member control.
- Education, training and information: Credit unions offer education and training so members can contribute to the co-op.
- Cooperation among cooperatives: Co-ops work together to benefit their members and strengthen the cooperative movement.
- Concern for community: Cooperative financial institutions work for sustainable economic development in local communities.
All cooperative credit unions uphold equality and equity, regardless of gender, race, religion, political affiliation or socio-economic factors. Some credit unions determine membership eligibility based on geographical area (State Employees’ Credit Union in North Carolina), profession (National Police Credit Union) or military service (Navy Federal Credit Union).
Associations for Financial Co-ops
National and international organizations help promote the mission of cooperative financial institutions:
- Credit Union National Association
- National Association of Federal Credit Unions
- National Credit Union Administration
- World Council of Credit Unions
- International Co-operative Alliance
- Cooperatives for a Better World
NCBA CLUSA Stands With Financial Services Co-ops
Credit unions invest in their members and communities to meet account holders’ banking and credit service needs. In doing so, cooperative financial institutions help deepen the footprint of the cooperative moment.
NCBA CLUSA works with its partners and members to build a more inclusive economy together. As an NCBA CLUSA member, you can join us as we advocate for inclusive economies around the world.