Celebrating CU Uniqueness

Take advantage of opportunities this fall to show your pride in the movement.

October 02, 2012
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I have three dates circled in red on my fall calendar: Oct. 8, Oct. 18, and Nov. 5.

Credit unions should circle them on their calendars, too. Here’s why: These dates present three opportunities where credit unions, as cooperatives, can brandish their very best to current and potential members. These three days are:

1.Oct. 8: The First International Summit of Cooperatives, in Quebec City, Canada. I will be there, along with cooperators from around the world, to mark the International Year of Cooperatives.

I’m excited to be part of this program, which also includes my counterpart at the World Council of Credit Unions, President/CEO Brian Branch.

The Summit gives us the chance to display the uniqueness of America’s credit unions—arguably among the most successful cooperatives in the world.

But it’s also another opportunity to celebrate the uniqueness of cooperatives themselves.

In fact, the organizers of the Summit have rightly noted “cooperatives have clearly demonstrated they’re resilient and relevant, and, therefore, part of the solution in establishing a more solid economic and financial system. More and more, the cooperative formula is seen as a solution that is not only durable but contemporary.”

I absolutely agree, particularly with regard to financial services and the role credit unions play. As the International Year of Cooperatives winds down, credit unions—as cooperatives—still have an opportunity to demonstrate they play an important role in focusing on human need, not human greed.

2.Oct. 18: International Credit Union (ICU) Day. This year, the theme is “Members Matter Most”—something we all know, but a point that must be underscored for everyone who is not (yet) part of our movement.

This will be the 65th annual celebration of ICU Day. Across our country and on Capitol Hill credit unions will join in a number of activities, such as:

3. Nov. 5: The anniversary of Bank Transfer Day. Hard to believe it’s been a year since consumers, galvanized by the actions of big banks when they raised fees, turned to credit unions around the nation for a better deal. Ultimately in 2011 more than 1.3 million consumers became members. That’s more than twice the number who joined credit unions the previous year.

But shouldn’t every day be Bank Transfer Day?

Some credit union folks from South Carolina see it just that way. Early this year, they encouraged CUNA to copyright the phrase “Every Day is Bank Transfer Day,” which we did and made available to credit unions at no charge. (In this way, credit unions can control the phrase to the benefit of consumers, rather than allow some other entity to get its hands on it.)

There’s even a website (, a Facebook page (BTDNOW) for credit unions to befriend, and a Twitter hashtag (#BTDNOW) credit unions can use in their tweets.

This is a grassroots movement, much as “Bank Transfer Day” was last year when Kristen Christian first launched her Facebook page.

And, certainly, our national credit union locater—, which is visited by thousands daily, including those searching for a credit union they’re eligible to join—is a key tool to help consumers realize every day is Bank Transfer Day.

No doubt, your calendar is similar to mine and you have plenty to do already just running your credit unions. But if time allows, take advantage of these three opportunities in the fall—and take pride in being part of a movement that offers the best choice in financial services.

BILL CHENEY is CUNA’s president/CEO.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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