BAILOUT…Where is the sunshine in a term like that?

If you are vested in the credit union business today your ears perk up when you hear the word “bailout.” Now more than ever, credit unions need positive collaborative solutions to bolster their organizations.


If you are vested in the credit union business today your ears perk up when you hear the word “bailout.”  The latest offer from the government...what credit union industry commentators are saying about what the bailout means to us...what your own experts say you should do.  There are plenty of opinions, from “get in line,” to disavowing the whole mess, to simply riding out the storm in silence. 

It is all very interesting...and it’s all very depressing!

If not intellectually depressing, it certainly is depressing from the standpoint of the titles and adjectives used to describe the activities:  “Bailouts,” “cleaning up a mess,” “too big or too little to save,” “greed,” “rampant speculation,” and on and on. The tone is enough to inspire leaps from tall buildings.  (Thank goodness I work in a first floor office!)

Getting Distracted
But I also think it is distracting.  It distracts from the fact that many credit unions needed positive collaborative solutions to bolster their organizations even prior to the current economic cycle.  It distracts from the fact that our industry needs to inspire creative investment to support credit unions who are investing in their markets, revitalizing their marketplace positions, and bolstering excitement from members, volunteers, and staff.  It distracts from the fact that we still need to foster a narrative that encourages start-ups and the pioneering spirit it takes to build a business with a credit union charter.

Negative headlines grab attention, and the word “bailout” plays better than a positive announcement for “Launching New Initiatives.”  But as a system, we must continue to launch collective solutions, and those solutions must come from every facet of the business. Direct from credit unions, from our trade organizations, vendors, and CUSOs.  All of these organizations should reflect a spirit of collective capital that is working towards the future.

A Collective Initiative to Invest
When it comes to fostering this spirit, CU*Answers walks the talk. We believe in every credit union and their struggle to be relevant to their members and their marketplace. If we can be part of their success and truly make a difference, we want to help. We believe that network cooperatives can lift credit unions up and beyond where they might be able to go on their own.

And we put our money, our solutions, and our efforts where our ideas are. The Spirit of CU*Answers Scholarship Program is part of a proactive solution to ensure the success of our industry, by providing help where struggling credit unions really need it. Would two years of free data processing make the difference that would let your credit union build a renewed and positive future?  (Would five years free make it possible to get a new credit union off the ground?  CU*Answers has programs to support startups as well!)

Ready to Act
Our government may have needed to use terms such as “bailout” and “rescue” to solicit a collective national and international effort to act.  But I hope our system, our collaborative, our industry never needs such negative inspiration, because its collective will is constantly engaged to act.



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Nov. 3, 2008


  • Rght on target.