International Credit Union Day is officially celebrated on the third Thursday in October every year. Credit Union of Denver chooses to celebrate on the following Friday so more of our members can attend. This year our celebration will commence Friday, Oct 20 in Lakewood Lobby from 11am to 5pm.
We hope you can join us! We will have vendors available for questions and promoting the discounts that our members receive. We will also have refreshments and giveaways as part of the festivities.
Our industry was founded on People Helping People. Here is a little history from Wikipedia to shed a little light on our modest beginnings:
International Credit Union (ICU) Day® celebrates the spirit of the global credit union movement. The day is recognized to reflect upon the credit union movement’s history, promote its achievements, recognize the hard work and share member experiences. ICU Day has been celebrated on the third Thursday of October since 1948. The ultimate goal is to raise awareness about the great work that credit unions are doing around the world and give members the opportunity to get more engaged.
The first successful credit unions began in Germany under the leadership of cooperative pioneer Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch. These credit unions would be recognizable today, since they adhered to the basic aspects of the co-operative identity: that is, they were “based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.” Shulze is credited with developing the bond of association which still forms the legal basis for credit unions today.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Schulze-Delitzsch recognized that the functions of retail lending and purchasing business inputs were best kept separate in the interests of sound cooperative management. In 1852 Schulze-Delitzsch consolidated the learning from two pilot projects, one in Eilenburg and the other in Delitzsch into what are generally recognized as the first credit unions in the world.
Schulze-Delitzsch was an excellent organizer and advocate for the credit union idea. “Wherever he went, new people’s banks sprang up … by 1859 there were 183 with 18,000 members in Posen and Saxony.”
Schulze focused much of his attention on developing federations or trade associations to help protect the brand of these small organizations, ensure their stability and link them to the global banking system. As a member of the Prussian House of Representatives and the German Reichstag he secured passage of a national credit union law in 1871. By 1912 the people’s banks he founded had 641,000 members.
The first credit union in North America, the Caisse populaire de Lévis in Quebec, Canada, began operations on Jan. 23, 1901, with a ten cent deposit. Founder Alphonse Desjardins, a reporter in the Canadian parliament, was moved to take up his mission in 1897 when he learned of a Montrealer who had been ordered by the court to pay nearly $5,000 in interest on a loan of $150 from a moneylender. Drawing extensively on European precedents, Desjardins developed a distinctive parish-based model for Quebec: the caisse populaire.
In the United States, St. Mary’s Bank of Manchester, New Hampshire, holds the distinction as the first credit union. Assisted by a personal visit from Desjardins, St. Mary’s Cooperative Credit Association (now named St. Mary’s Bank) was founded by French-speaking immigrants to Manchester from the Maritime Provinces of Canada on November 24, 1908. As the leader of St. Marie’s church, Monsignor Pierre Hevey was instrumental in establishing this credit union. Attorney Joseph Boivin managed the credit union, as a volunteer, out of his home in the evenings. America’s Credit Union Museum now occupies the location of Boivin’s home, where St. Mary’s Bank first operated.
Pierre Jay, a central banker and Edward Filene, a Bostonian merchant and philanthropist, were instrumental in establishing enabling legislation in Massachusetts in 1908.
Filene’s philanthropy, combined with the practical implementation efforts of his associate Roy Bergengren were critical to the emergence of credit unions across the United States. Unlike the credit unions of Germany or Quebec, most credit unions in the US emerged from an employer-based bond of association. In addition to the traditional information and enforcement advantages resulting from the fact that members shared the same workplace, the employer-based bond permitted credit unions to use future paychecks as collateral.
The Credit Union National Extension Bureau, the forerunner of the Credit Union National Association was formed as a confederation of state leagues at a meeting in Estes Park, Colorado, in 1934. Attendees at the meeting included Dora Maxwell who would go on to help establish hundreds of credit unions and programs for the poor in her lifetime and Louise McCarren Herring, whose work to form credit unions and ensure their safe operation earned the title of “Mother of Credit Unions” in the United States.
In 1932 Bergengren, at the invitation of Canadian priest and adult educator Moses Coady, drafted a model credit union law for the English-speaking province of Nova Scotia. The law was ratified in the provincial legislature the same year, and credit unions rapidly spread to the other Anglophone provinces. The development tools used by the Antigonish Movement led by Coady injected a much stronger populist tone in credit union development, and these methods were spread widely in the developing world after World War II.