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Bill Slach’s Sept. 9 letter to Credit Union Times ["Linking Up With Other Co-Ops"] offered the observation that “credit unions may be missing the boat when they do not partner with other cooperative organizations.” He also mentioned how the National Cooperative Business Association (www.ncba.coop) doesn’t promote the credit union model as much as “some members of our industry would like.” Since 1916, NCBA’s mission has been to develop, advance and promote cooperatives. Credit unions have always been one of the prime examples of cooperatives NCBA cites in its efforts. Our primary relationship with credit unions is through CUNA and NAFCU. Additionally, NCBA’s membership includes CUNA Mutual and two-thirds of the leagues. Just a few years ago, we began adding natural person credit unions to our membership. Slach also posed the question of whether it’s time to start a new association. The more serious question credit unions need to ask is how can I get more involved? NCBA is currently working on several efforts where CUs can partner with other cooperatives. The National Co-op Directory. There are more than 29,000 cooperatives operating in the U.S with more than 70,000 locations. NCBA is partnering with the Filene Research Institute’s i3 team to create a nationwide co-op directory so credit unions can identify other co-ops to partner with. Joint Legislative Efforts. Our history shows that by working together, credit unions and other cooperatives have a more likely chance to influence legislation to protect the interests of all cooperatives. For example, NCBA rallied other types of cooperatives in support of H.R. 1151. Recently, at the request of CUNA, NCBA again asked its members to support regulatory relief legislation to benefit credit unions. Co-op to Co-op Partnerships. When cooperatives collaborate with other cooperatives, everyone wins. For example, SPIRE Credit Union recently partnered with the Wedge, a local food co-op in Minneapolis, to create a branded co-op credit card for the Wedge’s members. This partnership affords Wedge members access to affordable interest rates and better services to its members. Cooperative Equity Fund. NCBA is working in partnership with CUNA Mutual to determine the feasibility of an equity fund that would allow credit union members to invest in cooperatives, creating a new source of capital for cooperative businesses. Once a fund like this becomes available, CUs would benefit on several levels-either through managing these funds or by promoting cooperative development among its member base. NCBA welcomes all credit unions to join us and further their connections to the greater cooperative community. Paul Hazen President/CEO NCBA Washington, D.C.

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Peter Westerman

 

Credit Union Times

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