When I write, my intent is to speak about the culture of Freedom, our purpose and, if possible, to inspire. I want members and employees to know that we are more than a bank, more than a financial institution. We are a partner; striving to serve and improve the lives of those with whom we come in contact in any way possible. Yet, I look around at the world and I wonder just how much we can do. What role can we play in making our community better, safer, and can that in turn create a better world? Can saving a member money, providing a loan for that first home, educating on how to budget, or providing employment that supports a family, make a difference and set people on a better path? Can that have a positive ripple effect? Can we matter? Tough questions and a grand idea to be sure.
I don’t know if financial institutions think about that a lot. Sure, commercials will say they do. Ads will pull at your heart strings to convince you they are more, but when you look at the profits, the growth, the mergers, etc., it’s easy to question the true motivation. Obviously any business must earn enough to pay their bills, pay their employees, and so on, but how much is enough? Freedom is a not-for-profit and, as such, our obligation is to take care of the same things as any business (infrastructure, salaries, products and services, etc.), but also take earnings and give back in a variety of ways; keeping fees down or eliminating them, maintaining competitive interest rates, reinvesting in the organization and supporting our community. Our earnings do not go to pay a Board of Directors; they volunteer for that role. Earnings do not go to stockholders to make a select few wealthy; they go to the membership. The best part is that how much we can give back is directly impacted by members themselves because the more they do, the more we earn and the more we give back. Seems simple, but it’s not.
See, we don’t believe, as some other financial institutions, in selling things to members they don’t really need or want. We have all the necessary products and services as any bank or credit union, but strive to give something more; a place you can count on and trust. A place that will meet member’s needs, but also talk to them, listen to them, and help them make the most out of their finances and decisions. It would be great if the world worked more like a credit union. Where people came together to support one another, do the things they do and use the things they use every day and, as a byproduct, help others as well as themselves. Where the greater good is placed above the individual. A member’s value at Freedom is not based on how much money they have on deposit or what position they hold in life. We don’t set out to offer the best products, rates or services for a select few. Our goal is to provide the best we can for all members.
Our mission is “to be a trusted partner by creating a culture of people helping people that meets the needs of our members and the communities we serve”. So, whether you’re an employee, a member, or both, if you want more out of your credit union, do more with your credit union. You’ll get more than you realize.