Credit unions have member-owners, not customers. Each person who “deposits” money in a credit union becomes a member of the credit union because his deposit is considered his share of the ownership. That means credit unions are member-owned.
Credit unions are democratically controlled. They are run by a volunteer board of directors elected by and from the membership. Each member has one vote in electing board members and certain committee members and can run for election to the board or committees.
Credit unions are not-for-profit. This doesn’t mean that they do not or should not make a profit. After expenses are paid and reserves are set aside, surplus earnings are returned to members in the forms of higher dividends, lower loan rates and free or low cost services.
Credit unions are part of a worldwide support network that includes credit unions, state credit union leagues, (Idaho Credit Union League), a national trade association (Credit Union National Association) and a worldwide credit union organization (WOCCU). They share ideas, information and resources.
Banks can serve anyone in the general public. Banks have customers who have no voice in how the bank is operated. Banks are owned by small groups of investors who expect a certain return on their investments.
At banks, only the investors have voting privileges. Customers don’t have voting rights, cannot be elected to the board, and have no authority in teh overall governance of their bank.
In banks, only the investors get a share of the profits.
Most banks belong to state and national organizations. However, banks usually are reluctant to share ideas, information and resources.