October 18, 2018, will mark the 70th anniversary of International Credit Union Day. This year’s theme is “Find Your Platinum Lining.”
Traditionally, platinum is considered the gift for 70th anniversaries—well, iron & smokey quartz gemstones are also considered, but let’s be honest, those don’t really roll off the tongue, do they?
The theme combines the gift of platinum for 70th anniversaries with a play on the saying “every cloud has a silver lining.”
In celebration of this anniversary, credit unions all over the world will be celebrating the history and the success of the “people-not-profit” philosophy that drives us, and has driven Arbor since its creation in 1935. This year’s theme emphasizes the credit union movement’s loyalty to its members, and its mission to provide them financial support and guidance.
As a brief history lesson, the movement began in the 1840s as a (small d) democratic consumer cooperative by weavers in Rochdale, England. Frustrated by bankers who denied them loans simply because they weren’t wealthy, the weavers and workers decided to pool their incomes and loan money to each other. In time, this cooperation put each member on solid financial ground and encouraged their own businesses to flourish. These credit societies also began to form in southern Germany in the late 1840’s, and in 1864, rural credit union pioneer Friedrich Raiffeisen established what was in effect the first rural credit union.
By 1900, the idea moved from Europe to Canada, as Alphonse Desjardins co-founded Caisse d'épargne Desjardins (Desjardins Savings Office) in Quebec. A few years later, authorities held public hearings on credit union legislation in Massachusetts, and in 1909, Desjardins formed the first credit union in the United States, in New Hampshire.
Momentum continued to grow, as more states began to pursue credit union legislation, and in 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act, which authorized federally chartered credit unions in all states.
The need for equitable financial institutions continued to grow apace, and in 1971, the World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) was created to help establish and maintain viable credit union movements. It has become the leading voice for advocacy and governance on behalf of the international credit union community.
Today, over 235 million people are served by credit unions in 109 countries and 6 continents. The credit union movement continues to grow, striving to create a system of not-for-profit cooperatives to promote sound financial practices, and save their members money.
Join us at any of our branches on Oct. 18 to celebrate ICU Day.