What makes credit unions so special? People who are members of credit union are also owners of that credit union. That's why each member is also called a member-owner.
Okay, that doesn't mean you can go to the credit union and run around or use all of the supplies. It does mean that you can vote for the Board of Directors (the group that controls or governs what happens at the credit union)—and actually help decide what things will be like at your credit union. (You usually have to be at least 18 years old to vote.)
- Credit unions exist only to serve their member-owners.
- Members have the power to guide a credit union's course of action and, if they aren't happy with what is done, the members can even replace the board of directors.
- Credit unions exist only to serve their members, but banks must make profits for their shareholders (the people who own shares of the joint fund or property, in this case, the bank).
- Credit unions practice a one-member, one-vote philosophy for all elections. This is different than for-profit financial institutions (such as banks) whose shareholders vote according to the number of shares of stock they own.
Let's look at this example: Pretend the shareholders are just people with different amounts of money. If one person has $1.00, that person gets one vote. If another person has $5.00, that person gets five votes. If someone else has $100.00, that person gets 100 votes! Does that seem fair?
But in a credit union, all members are equal. Each member gets one vote. It doesn't matter if one member has more money than another member. All members have an equal say in what happens at their credit union. Now, that's fair!