//Home Page // Blog
  1. // Social Impact

    The Future for Cooperatives is Now

    On Monday, April 6, an advertorial appeared in the New York Times titled “Power to the People: Cooperatives Spread the Benefits.” The feature goes a long way in making the case (domestically and internationally) for the cooperative business model. Further, it shines a bright light on the future of cooperatives and the power of cooperatives to change lives.

    The article opens with a quote from Paul Hazen (CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association ), his forecast is “we will see a growth in the number of cooperatives” as a result of a weakened global economy. Giving strength to Paul’s statement, the International Co-operative Alliance has proclaimed the theme of International Day of Co-operatives 2009 to be “Driving global recovery through co-operatives.” Not only do cooperatives have a role in promoting economic growth, but as ICA goes on to state, cooperatives have a role in promoting “ethical values-values which have been severely challenged during the economic crisis.”

    That to me is the crux of it…by the very nature of our cooperative principles and values we are guided to do what is right. Meaning, we do what is best for our stakeholders, our employees, the environment, and our members. By the means in which we conduct our everyday business practices we are acting in a socially responsible manner…we are having a social impact. The concern we (cooperatives/credit unions) hold for our communities is intrinsic to our business philosophy and the tenets upon which we were founded.

    These tenets/cooperative principles and values are part of the foundation of the Credit Union Development Educator Program. The CUDE Program teaches the critical importance of adherence to these principles and has been doing so for over 27 years. This also means that the DE Program is instructing credit union people to be socially responsible…to do work that has a social impact. But are we doing enough? Are cooperatives/credit unions implementing social responsibility practices to the fullest extent?

    While a great deal of good work is being done we don’t know what the future will bring to the cooperative movement. How large or small it may be in five or ten years. But there is little doubt the cooperative business model has momentum. In his post Social Impact Matters, our own Steve Delfin (Executive Director of the National Credit Union Foundation) lays out succinctly that the cooperative business model is “gaining prominence as a viable alternative.” But cooperatives must come together and be a movement as a whole if cooperatives are to emerge and go head to head with any traditional business model.

    And how do CUDE’s figure into this? As a colleague and friend put it recently: “CUDE’s have the ability to truly energize and nourish a collaboration among all coops like never seen before, one that could certainly introduce new benefits for all the members and users of coops.”

    Here is a link to the advertorial Power to the People – Cooperatives Spread the Benefits

DiscussionLeave a Comment

  1. Excellent post, Tom! I would also note the recent publication of a study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture demonstrating the tremendous economic impact of cooperatives on the U.S. economy. With nearly 30,000 cooperative businesses pumping more than $650 billion a year into the economy and employing more than 2 million people, credit unions and other cooperatives have much more power to shape the debate over the future of our economic system than we often realize.

  2. Well said, Tom. Where do we now begin? Hopefully we can make some time at an upcoming gathering to explore the ways that CUDEs can move this collaboration among all coops to the next level.

  3. I think credit unions should find ways to collaborate and cooperate with other cooperatives – food coops, housing coops etc. I also want us to think about new ways for cooperation among credit unions – never has this cooperation been more important than now. Many credit unions are facing very difficult times and really need support from their peers – also warrants conversation I think.

  4. The credit union industry must reaffirm and adopt a solid program of coopeation with each other and with our members. Now is not the time to argue membership or programs but the time to aggressively puruse increased market share. We can do this by working together with each other and promoting the credit union difference. We have a proud and rich heritage of cooperation and support and those principles must be dusted off and re-presented to each credit union employee, volunteer, and member. Cooperation as opposed to competition is the way of the future for credit unions if we are to continue growing and evolving with positive services and programs.

  5. Great to see Board members wading in Curtis! It’s vital that volunteer directors own this issue. To make sure I truly get it I’ll be at DE Training starting Wednesday. Cooperation and collaboration are at the roots of NCUF’s REAL Solutions program. NCUF’s latest cooperative initiative is encouraging CU’s to share their perspective on when now is the time to hunker down or move more aggressively to meet the needs of underserved and emerging markets. Go to http://realsolutions.coop/2009/5/11/one-question-survey-focus-in-or-focus-out for more.

Leave a comment
  • Submit

* we will never publish your email