Revealing Character

Many have observed, “crises do not create character; they reveal it.”

Recently a CEO asked if I had heard about PPF funding for credit union entities such as CUSO’s or foundations. Credit unions are not eligible. He heard reports that several entities had applied. That worried him. The concern was that such efforts compromised the claim that we take care of our own, the self-help basis of cooperative design.

I replied that if the economy continues to falter requiring hundreds of billions more of government grants, a much bigger challenge will confront the country and credit unions. Specifically, how will the government pay for all this additional spending and debt issuance. The answer is obvious: new taxes.

Therefore, credit unions must demonstrate and document our self-reliance, self-funding mutuality with members during this time. Did we use our tax-free net income and capital to benefit members, or did we just hoard it?

A Skeptical Take: Fake It Till the Fourth Quarter

Another view is that some will cry NCUA made them so dependent on “help from on high” that they could not stand alone with any integrity. Can this generation of credit union leaders rekindle the spirit of cooperative innovation and entrepreneurship? Or, will they be tempted to seek “paint by the numbers” handouts from bureaucrats who never met a payroll or face-to-face with members?

Is it possible to at least fake it until the fourth quarter and the clock runs out?

The Cooperative Way Forward

Credit unions’ purpose is to use each day as a day to do something better for members. It is reasonable to see the crisis as bigger than any one of us, as individual members or credit unions. But it is not bigger than all of us together.

That confidence arises from knowing we were created to do things that had not been done before. We do not shy away when that challenge comes again. That is why we are here.

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