A credit union is a cooperative, meaning that it is owned by the same people who utilize its services.
The owners of a cooperative are its members and a credit union can only serve its members. This is why membership is critical. It is different from a bank, which is owned by its shareholders who may or may not also be the bank’s customers. A bank’s shareholders are interested only in how profitable the bank is. Because they don’t use the bank’s services they tend not to be interested in whether the bank is serving its customers well.
By contrast, a cooperative is a not-for-profit organization that places the interests of its members first.
This means that the people who use the credit union’s services on a daily basis can also influence the direction in which the credit union grows, its loan and account policies, and many other governing decisions. Membership means you have a voice. By voting in the Annual Meeting, by running for a seat on the Board of Directors, or by volunteering for the Supervisory Committee, you have the opportunity to determine how Brooklyn Coop serves its depositors.
This is what makes Brooklyn Coop completely different from how most other financial institutions. We are a grassroots, transparent, and accountable financial institution that prioritizes the financial stability of its members above all. Join us!
I want to support community banking! Should I move my money to a credit union?
Yes! Becoming a member of Brooklyn Coop is one way to strengthen financial institutions that are locally governed and accountable to the people they serve.
In moving your deposits, also consider moving your loans or other credit balances. In order for Brooklyn Coop to be successful, it needs to earn enough revenue to pay its bills and to build a reserve cushion so that it can grow. There are three ways to pay our bills: (1) get free money through grants, (2) charge fees, or (3) lend money out and earn interest income. This is why transferring your credit cards or auto loan or mortgage to BCoop is so significant. Moving deposits to the credit union indirectly helps us with #3 because we can use those deposits to create loans.
Currently Brooklyn Coop does all three. We raise several hundred thousand dollars each year to support our lending and account services. Mostly these funds come from the federal or state government; some comes from foundations. We also charge fees that average about $6 per member per month. Our most critical source of revenue is our loan portfolio, from which we earn about 70% of our income.
Among all three options, the most sustainable way to keep the credit union strong is to build a diverse and healthy loan portfolio. Over the past 15 years, Brooklyn Coop Loan Officers have worked with thousands of borrowers in our communities and we’ve gained considerable experience in disbursing and servicing all kinds of loans, from $500 credit builders to $1 million mortgages. Generally we are able to lend between 75% and 90% of our deposits, putting those deposits to immediate and good use.
So, for members of the community that would like to ensure that their dollars are invested back into their neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and that those investments are directed with the purpose of encouraging local economic development, we suggest moving both your deposits and your credit balances to Brooklyn Coop. Ask a Loan Officer how!