The Operation Principle

The following Credit Union Operating Principles which were approved 24 August 1984 by the Membership Council of the World Council of Credit Unions are founded in the philosophy of cooperation and its central values of equality, equity and mutual self-help. Recognizing the varied practices in the implementation of credit union philosophy around the world, at the heart of these principles is the concept of human development and the brotherhood of man expressed through people working together to achieve a better life for themselves and their community.


→Open and Voluntary Membership

  Membership in a credit union is voluntary and open to all within the accepted common bond of association that can make use of its services and are willing to accept the corresponding responsibilities.

→Democratic Control

  Credit union members enjoy equal rights to vote (one member, one vote) and participate in decisions affecting the credit union, without regard to the amount of savings or deposits or the volume of business. Voting in credit union support organizations or associations may be proportional or representational, in keeping with democratic principles. The credit union is autonomous, within the framework of law and regulation, recognizing the credit union as a cooperative enterprise serving and controlled by its members. Credit union elected offices are voluntary in nature and incumbents should not receive a salary. However, credit unions may reimburse legitimate expenses incurred by elected officials.


  Credit unions are non-discriminatory in relation to race, nationality, sex, religion, and politics.



Credit unions services are directed to improve the economic and social well-being of all members.

Distribution to Members

  To encourage thrift through savings and thus to provide loans and other services, a fair rate of interest is paid on savings and deposits, within the capability of the credit union. The surplus arising out of the operations of the credit union after ensuring appropriate reserve levels and after payment of limited dividends on permanent equity capital where it exists, belongs to and benefits all members with no member or group of members benefiting to the detriment of others. This surplus may be distributed among members in proportions to their transactions with the credit union as interest or patronage refunds, or directed to improved or additional services required by the members.

→Building Financial Stability

  A prime concern of the credit union is to build the financial strength, including adequate reserves and internal controls that will ensure continued service to membership.


→On-Going Education

Credit unions actively promote the education of their members, officers, and employees, along with the public in general, in the economic, social, democratic, and mutual self-help principles of credit unions. The promotion of thrift and the wise use of credit, as well as education on the rights and responsibilities of members are essential to the dual social and economic character of credit unions in serving member needs.

→Cooperation Among Cooperatives

In keeping with their philosophy and the pooling practices of cooperatives, credit unions within their capability actively cooperate with other credit unions, cooperatives and their associations at local, national, and international levels in order to best serve the interests of their members and their communities.

→Social Responsibility

Continuing the ideals and beliefs of the cooperative pioneers, credit unions seek to bring about human and social development. Their vision of social justice extends both to the individual members and to the larger community in which they work and reside. The credit union ideal is to extend service to all who need and can use it. Every person is either a member or a potential member and appropriately part of the credit union sphere of interest and concern. Decisions should be taken with full regard for the interest of the broader community within which the credit union and its members reside.