Credit unions around the world celebrate International Credit Union Day on the third Thursday of October. It’s a day to share how not-for-profit financial cooperatives differ from banks and to thank our members for their trust in us.
Since the credit union movement started in 1849 in Germany when a group of rural farmers combined their resources to provide financial support to neighbors who could not secure loans from banks, the mission has remained the same: people helping people thrive and become successful.
As credit unions took a foothold in the United States in 1909 with the creation of the Massachusetts Credit Union Act, the mission has spread across the nation with credit unions created to serve a wide range of industries, communities, and collectives.
Now, in 2023, there are 136.6 million credit union members in the U.S., according to statista.com. Millions of people join each year as they discover the credit union difference: credit unions are in it for you, not their bottom line.
If you haven’t already experienced this difference for yourself, here’s what the credit union mission looks like now.
Enrichment of communities regardless of membership status
Being a member of a credit union has its benefits, from lower loan rates and higher dividend rates on savings, friendly individualized service, and products that put your financial wellness at the forefront.
But even non-members benefit from having a credit union in their neighborhood. That’s because credit unions are wholly engaged with their communities through philanthropy such as awarding scholarships and grants. Credit union employees embrace opportunities to volunteer and that sense of giving back to the community is engrained in credit union culture. And we provide free financial education to help communities thrive.
Credit unions provide free financial education to people of all ages as a pure resource with no agenda other than to provide the community with tools to achieve financial success. At SAFE, we introduce teens and young adults to the financial decisions they’ll make as adults through our Budget Cents program. Through the Workplace Financial Wellness program, SAFE works with Sacramento-area employers to provide workshops and webinars to their teams to give them the tools and information they need to build financial freedom. SAFE invites the public to participate in our free webinars on topics that range from building and managing a budget, buying your first home, buying a car, the basics on trusts, planning for retirement, and the cost analysis of buying an electric car vs. a gasoline vehicle. And our Perfect Cents Podcast connects listeners to financial insights and ways to engage with their communities.
Credit unions use philanthropy to specifically benefit members of the community served by its branches. SAFE gives $400,000 a year to the Greater Sacramento region through grants, direct donations, sponsorships, and scholarships.
Volunteering is woven into the fabric of the culture at credit unions. At SAFE, volunteerism is a staple of our philosophy. Each employee receives 16 hours of paid time off a year to volunteer for the causes they care the most about. Teams also gather together to pitch in for volunteer activities such as helping sort and distribute food at food banks and pantries; painting rec centers; and stuffing bags with food for homeless students to share with their families. Most recently, SAFE launched Building CommYOUnity Month, in which employees connected to numerous volunteer opportunities during September to make a significant impact on our community.
Beyond providing the latest tech that helps members manage their money, credit unions are committed to use the latest technology to connect to their members and the communities where they are.
At SAFE, we use a wide array of platforms and channels to reach our members and the community. For our members, we offer a friendly mobile app and Online Banking that features solutions like a robust budgeting tool that gives you insights into your finances and helps you set savings goals. Through upgrades and new tech solutions, we are continuously finding new and improved ways to offer individualized service.
We offer our webinars virtually so people can join from anywhere. The Perfect Cents Podcast is available wherever you download podcasts.
SAFE also invests in its employees to ensure they are prepared to provide exceptional experiences through ongoing training and certification.
Ready to Experience the Credit Union Difference?
If you’re not a credit union member and live in the Greater Sacramento region, consider joining SAFE. We make it easy to join. You can apply at safecu.org, schedule an appointment at one of our 21 branches, or call our all-local Contact Center at (800) SEE-SAFE.
I also invite you to check out our webinars and get financial insights from friendly experts. Our member service representatives are ready to talk with you about your financial goals in person at our branches, too.
SAFE is here and ready to help you build financial freedom!