In these difficult financial times, it can be a struggle to accept the fact that your savings are being slowly drained by bank fees, swelling the bank's profits at the expense of your financial security. In fact, many people would like to do as their grandparents did after the recession and start stashing cash in their mattresses, if only the danger of it being lost to fire or theft wasn't so grave. So what's the solution? Do you just roll over and accept the stiff fees? No. There is another option. You could take your patronage to another type of financial institution: a credit union.

Most people think that credit unions are the same as banks, but while they offer the same type of services, the way they are structured and run is completely different. A bank is governed by a CEO and a board of directors whose mission is to maximize the bank's profits in order to line their own pockets. When they invest their clients' money, they are able to take riskier propositions because it is their clients that shoulder most of the risk in a situation where the investment returns a loss.

A credit union, meanwhile, is a type of bank that is founded and run by the people whose money is supporting it. In other words, anyone who opens an account with a credit union is a part owner and therefore has a vested interest in the well being of the bank. And in turn, the board of directors, who are all also clients, have a vested interest in making sure the bank does well and returns dividends to all its clients. As a result, credit unions tend to be more careful with their investments and to invest closer to home in ventures that will benefit their community.

Because of this, many community organizations, such as the Church of the Brethren, have formed their own credit unions. Credit unions are also helpful in developing countries because it allows wealthier members to invest their money within the community, which works to improve the financial health of the whole community. Plus, community, church, and non-profit group members just feel safer when they know that someone who knows them, someone who shares their ideals, is looking after their money for them.

If you would like to learn more about credit unions, the role of credit unions in international development, how credit unions are formed, the roles and responsibilities of credit union owner/clients, or how to form your own credit union, this website can help. We have complied a large selection of articles on the topic of credit unions. Perhaps you can use this knowledge to form a credit union for your church, non-profit group, or community so you can be just like the Church of the Brethren. Just mouse over the topics in the navigation bar at the top of the page to see a list of articles

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