What is a Credit Union?Comment September 27, 2012 by Triangle Credit Union
Across the country more than 92 million people belong to more than 7,500 credit unions. But what is a credit union and how does it differ from a bank? The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) defines a credit union as a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative.
Structured democratically, a credit union allows each member a say in choosing a volunteer board of directors and thus the direction of the organization. In fact, according to the WOCCU, “in some countries, members encounter their first taste of democratic decision making through their credit unions." In a credit union, members’ savings are pooled to become other members’ loans, and profits are returned to all in the form of low loan rates and high yield savings. A common bond is shared by members, whether it is community, place of employment or education, organization, or religion. The goal of each and every credit union will always be to strengthen that common bond of membership. By comparison, a commercial bank’s guiding principal will always be to return profit to its shareholders. That’s not to say that banks do not reinvest in the communities they serve; they certainly do, but they do so to enhance their public profile in exchange for commercial gain. The history of our credit union, Triangle Credit Union, mirrors that of other credit unions around the world. Born from a desire to provide affordable credit and to promote thrift to the mill employees of Nashua Gummed and Coated Paper Company, Triangle Credit Union was incorporated on September 16, 1939 with ten charter members.By our first annual meeting only a few months later in January 1940, we had 181 members, with $2,149 in assets and 40 loans totaling $2,197. These 40 loans were given to mill employees who otherwise could not have afforded the interest on a bank loan. For the first time, many of these employees could own a home or send a family member to college.
Over time the mill-employees extended membership to friends and family, then to other affiliate mill workers, and then as their community expanded beyond the workplace, membership was offered to all of those residing within their community. Today, Triangle Credit Union proudly continues the credit union tradition of democracy and financial empowerment serving over 40,000 people living in the Hillsborough, Merrimack, Belknap, Rockingham and Cheshire Counties of New Hampshire, as well as the Franklin, Worcester, Middlesex and Essex Counties of Massachusetts.
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