Share Your Story and Win!
We would love to celebrate how you exemplify the “people helping people” spirit in your community! Members who share a photo and short story or explanation of how they give back to their community will be featured in our social media, on our website, and be entered to win a $50 Visa® gift card! You can submit your story and photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. See full contest rules here.
Thursday, October 19 is the 75th annual International Credit Union Day®! Each year, we come together to celebrate ICU Day to raise awareness about what it means for members around the world to have a not-for-profit financial cooperative as their financial partner. This year, we celebrate a global movement of “people helping people” – the credit union mantra. At Cutting Edge, this means we are committed to providing our members with the education, financial expertise, accessible tools & resources, and affordable products and services to EMPOWER your financial futures and reach your financial goals! It’s just the way we do business as a financial co-op.
Ways to celebrate ICU Day 2023
- Share a photo and brief explanation about how you serve your community via email to email@example.com. We will celebrate you on International Credit Union Day & you will be entered to win a $50 Visa® gift card!
- Stop into a branch on Thursday, October 19 to celebrate with us with a snack
- Enjoy International Credit Union Day at home by printing and getting creative with this cool coloring page!
- Take a listen and get inspired by The World Council of Credit Union’s podcast episode highlighting some incredible member stories of a credit union’s impact on their lives
A brief history of International Credit Union Day from the World Council of Credit Unions
Credit Unions: A History of Community and Ownership
This is the story of an idea. A simple idea: that people could pool their money and make loans to each other.
It’s the credit union idea, and it evolved from the cooperative activities of early 19th century Europe. The first of these cooperatives was an 1844 marketing cooperative organized by a group of workers in Rochdale, England. That same year in Germany, Victor Aime Huber began developing and publicizing some of the early European cooperative theories. The idea of credit societies was a part of this effort.
Credit Societies: The Birth of Credit Unions
Moved by the crop failure and famine that had devastated Germany in 1846–1847, Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch and Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen created the first true credit unions in the mid-19th century. After organizing a cooperatively owned mill and bakery, Schulze-Delitzsch founded the first “people’s bank” in 1852 to provide credit to entrepreneurs in the city. Raiffeisen had established a credit society in Flammersfeld, Germany in 1849 that depended on the charity of wealthy men for its support. He remained committed to that concept until 1864, when he organized a new credit union for farmers along the principles of cooperative interdependence, a community-first mentality and a volunteer management structure that are still fundamental today.
The credit societies in Germany, and similar institutions founded by Luigi Luzzatti in Italy, were the forerunners of the large cooperative “banks” which abound in Europe today.
The Idea Goes West
Over the years, credit unions spread to communities around the world. In the early 1900s Alphonse and Dorimene Desjardins started a credit union (caisse populaire) in Lévis, Quebec. Shortly thereafter, Alphonse, along with Americans Edward A. Filene and Roy F. Bergengren, helped establish credit unions in the United States.
In 1908, Monsignor Pierre Hevey, Pastor of Sainte-Marie’s parish in Manchester, New Hampshire, organized what was soon to be known as the first credit union. The goal was to help the primarily Franco-American mill workers save and borrow money. On November 24, 1908 they officially opened their doors as “La Caisse Populaire, Ste-Marie” (The People’s Bank) and became the first credit union in the nation.
The First Credit Union Day
As time passed, a desire emerged to establish an annual occasion to acknowledge both the credit unions’ important role in creating opportunity for their members and communities and the achievements of pioneers who laid the foundation for ongoing credit union success.
On January 17, 1927, the Credit Union League of Massachusetts celebrated the first official holiday for credit union members and workers. They selected January 17 because it was the birthday of America’s “Apostle of Thrift,” Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), who early credit union founders believed symbolized “the life and teaching embodied in the spirit and purpose of credit unions.”
Ironically, rapid growth within the North American credit union movement meant that people were either too busy to celebrate or too new to the movement to recognize the significance of the celebration. After a brief trial period, Credit Union Day quietly disappeared.
Where and How We Celebrate Today
Members around the world celebrate this special day in a number of ways. Some sponsor open houses, picnics, fairs, festivals and parades; others hold athletic competitions and essay or art contests for young members. Public gatherings with visiting dignitaries have effectively attracted media attention and public involvement, as have educational and public service events.
As your credit union joins in this unique and exciting celebration, remember that you are joined by more than 390 million members in 118 countries, across six continents who also recognize and celebrate the credit union difference!