As collaborative community-based institutions, credit unions are very unique organizations. For many that have not been exposed to credit unions, it is difficult to see what makes this community so special, or even how a credit union differs from a bank, for that matter.
Since my time as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, I have been highly involved in another industry, or “community” – that of local craft beer. In fact, discovering the parallels between these two unique industries sparked my initial interest in the credit union movement, and is ultimately what has led me to my current role at a collaborative credit union service organization (CUSO).
In very recent years, the nation has witnessed the craft brewing community explode. In fact, according to the Brewers Association, the craft beer industry has been experiencing years of steady 10-15 percent growth, and now boasts over 6,000 U.S. craft breweries, for the first time in history. Despite the parallels between these communities outlined below, we are all aware of the declining number of U.S. credit unions, shrinking from over 7,200 in 2011, to less than 6,000 today. For community-based institutions focused on quality service, why do these trends differ?