As the Occupy Wall Street movement spreads across the country, credit unions can leverage it as a time to promote the cooperative model for banking.
The Occupy Wall Street movement spread to Washington DC this week. Hundreds of protesters, inspired by the ongoing protests that began in Manhattan on Sept. 17, rallied in Freedom Plaza, just a few blocks from the U.S. Treasury Department, on Thursday. The movement’s organizers say their overarching goal was to counter corporate greed, but protestors have taken up a wide range of causes, including a movement against big banks.
It’s an ideal time for credit unions to get their cooperative message out and to explain the model that credit unions act on behalf of members and are not driven by profit. After all, some of the protesters – so passionately opposed to profit-driven corporations – may still not be aware that credit unions offer a more community-focused option for banking.
Among the protesters’ dozens of demands for social and economic equality is a call to boycott large banks by withdrawing all funds on Nov. 5, which organizers are calling “Bank Transfer Day.” So far, more than 6,500 people have registered for the event to protest upcoming fees that banks are levying in response to the Durbin Amendment, according to CNBC. Clearly, those protesters will probably put their money into smaller community banks or credit unions.
Creditunions.com interviewed several protestors on Friday, when the local protest at Freedom Plaza petered down to just a few dozen campers. They seemed righteous about what they didn’t want in an institution – more fees. But they were not sure how credit unions could provide an alternative option. They didn’t know how cooperatives could fit into their lives and they were unsure about what defined a credit union’s business model.
These ongoing protests offer credit unions across the country another opportunity to get their message out now as the Occupy Wall Street movement, and all its various causes, is spreading through the nation. Just look at this interactive map by Mother Jones showing where the protests have spread. Imagine distributing pro-credit union leaflets at these events, telling protesters how they can find and join a local credit union, or even signing up new members on the spot.
Occupy D.C. protesters march down K Street NW, crossing Connecticut Avenue on their way to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on Friday evening.
Click image for larger size | Photo by Rebecca McClay