Edward Filene Credit Union Awards for Excellence - COMMUNITY - Criteria

For credit unions to become successful and maintain their success, they should continually outreach to the entire field of membership to first mobilise and then galvanise it to undertake actions for the good of the entire community.

Credit unions should not have a sense of entitlement to the savings and loans business of their membership fields; like all other authorised deposit takers and regulated lenders, they should go out into the market and compete for a place in it.  They have additional weapons that no other “firms” in the financial services industry and the broader economy have.  Active dynamic credit unions outreach into entire communities, mobilising them into taking actions for the common good - a unique credit union difference and often ignored.  Inspiring and innovative ideas have been entered by credit unions over the past few years. 

As referred to on the previous page, some categories in the Community Outreach classification are open for entry by the whole credit union world and indicated accordingly with (*International), i.e. the Minerva Award, the Millenial Award, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and Use of the Media.

Click on these headings to see the criteria and suggestions for evidence for each Award category

11. The Minerva Award
12.  The Millenial Award
13.  The Ecumenical Award
4. "17 Sustainable Development Goals"
15. "Credit Union Advocacy with local/national politicians"
16. "Use of the Media"

11. The Minerva Award - Excellence shown by a credit union undertaking actions and activities to empower women and girls (*International)
No amount of statements, legislation, regulation, rules, policies and procedures can themselves alter deeply entrenched attitudes, speech, customs and practice.  Credit unions with their inherent values of equality for all owner-members within the Common Bond can be major change agents through positive action. 

As an employer and with volunteers as well as a community social enterprise, what does the credit union do to try to change attitudes (education) and conduct activities to meet the needs of girls and women?  Examples of these activities can be within the credit union as an employer, engagement with its owner-membership based on say, but not exclusively, products and services meeting these specific needs and through/with partner organisations, businesses, places of education.  

Through the "Friends of the Credit Union" (as its unregulated business in the UK), what "paid for" or voluntary activities being organised specifically for women and girls.

12. The Millenial Award - Excellence shown by a credit union addressing the specific needs of owner-members, savers and potential ones aged from 16 to 30, generically known as Millenials (*International)
This age range is the first to know only constant electronic communication in their study, work and socially.  Credit unions cannot expect to attract and retain the loyalty of the younger generations other than it ascertains first and then provides them with the ever changing range of products and services they require.  If credit unions don't, our competitors in the financial services industry will and do!  Credit unions must plan for succession. Does your credit union have a "Youth Board"? It's only through providing relevant services first and along the transaction trail that the credit union societal values of mutual ownership, engagement in democratic control and co-operative leadership can be imparted, so, but not exclusively, the Judges would be looking for proofs of activities undertaken, setbacks overcome and outcomes produced, such as ....  

  • How does the credit union ascertain the presence and locations of the target groups?  
  • What methods are used to reach out to these groups, the centres of influence and how they were mobilised?
  • How was it ascertained which products and services were required?  The customer (particularly those with choices) is always right.
  • How are the products and services provided?  Delivery methods? Any difficulties encountered and overcome?
  • What methods are used to communicate with the "on the go" generation and why?
  • How are the value sets of mutual ownership, democratic control, co-operative leadership, self help and reliance expressed to these owner-members?
  • How are the younger generations encouraged to engage in the affairs of the credit union that they own, say by - but not exclusively ...
     - setting up a selected "Young Board of Directors" or
     - a designated number of places for young owner-members (depending on age) to serve as full Directors or Youth Representatives;
     - creating a Youth/Young Persons Forum/Chapter across a number of neighbouring credit unions.

13. The Ecumenical Award - Excellence shown in demonstrating active outreach to all of those who have different beliefs, are of a different ethnic group, sexual orientation or pursue a different lifestyle Everyone should be included in co-operation.
Undertaking actions and activities to provide access to savings, loans and connected products for all of those within the Common Bond, who otherwise, through being in one of the groups above, could be prevented from doing so; however each product or service provided must comply with the existing laws and regulations of the land of residence.. 

Great Britain and Ireland have been open societies for historic reasons but sadly polarisation of peoples from each other is a two way activity - what is your credit union doing to overcome this?  Examples can be in employment practices, the provision of products and services to meet the needs of all groups of people but comply with the laws/regulations of the land of residence.  Other examples can be outreach to the centres of influence within the different groups and through the credit union's various media outlets, issuing greetings, salutations and condolences at the appropriate times.

Creating a holistic community is not only social best practice, but can make good business sense.

15. Excellence shown in striving to achieve The "17 Sustainable Development Goals" (SDGs)  (*International)
These are part of the 2015 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 70/1 "Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" shortened to "2030 Agenda" 
The sharp end active delivery agents for these goals should be multi-purpose co-operative credit unions, credit unionists and particularly Development Educators.  Delivering every one of the 17 goals is commonsense and is for the common good of all humans and the future of the planet.  The activities required to produce the desired outcomes are those that credit unions - because of their nature, purpose and value sets - are leading on in both the developed world (say Australia) and developing world (Philippines).  It's also both socially and financially profitable for all the stakeholders and is damned good business! Evidence for the Judging Panel can include, but not exclusively:-

  • How has the credit union engaged on delivering any one, or more, of the 17 SDGs? How did it make the choice?
  • What and how did the credit union aim to achieve?
  • How many owner-members were involved and/or did it become part of a delivery partnership?
  • What quantifiable outcomes were achieved, including business benefits?
  • Are there any plans for the credit union and its owner-members to continue to pursue the targets?

16. Excellence shown in Engaging in direct credit union advocacy with local/national politicians (*International)
With credit unions having the owner-membership numbers that can affect the result of elections at all levels, they can put a credit union list of "wants" to politicians at all levels, regardless of their political affiliation.  Our credit union cousins in the USA are very successful at this.  Evidence for the Judging Panel can include:-

  • What causes were pursued by the credit union?
  • Who were the target politicians pursued by the credit union? – please name them and their rank, but as credit unions are apolitical, no mention of a political party need be made.
  • What proofs of this activity can be provided?
  • What are the results?

17. Excellence shown in performance by a credit union in use of the media   (*International)
The media constantly misrepresent the unique nature of credit unions - an alternative banking model - that by its mutual owner-member co-operative structure of control enables any individual within the legal membership field to participate as a consumer, volunteer or lay leader in democratic capitalism.  Our savers are our borrowers.  The media and politicians believe that we are only the lenders of last resort for those who can't obtain credit elsewhere.  Wrong!  Credit unions have financed business start-ups and university education as well as undertaken tax mitigation, etc.  Only credit unions and credit unionists as disruptors can destroy this myth.  The Judging Panel will be looking for ....

  • How does the credit union create news stories?
  • Which forms of media does it use?   e.g. magazine/newspaper articles, guest appearances on radio, television broadcasts, use of social media, advertising, publicity “stunts” for the credit union and charitable organisation it supports, videos etc. 
  • Give details of the proven benefits of any media exposure

With filming technology becoming ever more sophisticated and affordable, all credit unions should be developing film presentations about their activities that can be shown at different venues to different audiences.  The Judges will be looking for expertise and quirkiness that makes the viewing memorable.


The following Award is open only to selected entrants, the winning of this does not count towards the Supreme Award  (click for information on this)

“Edward Filene Credit Union Award for Performance Excellence by the winner of a category making a film about their entry and Credit Union

This Award will be open to credit unions winning one or more categories, at which point (in utmost confidence) they will be requested to make this film which should cover specifically the activities described in their winning entries.  

Only after the Judging Panel has made their decisions will the invitations go out to make this film.  The film editor, who compiles these films into an edited loop, acts as the Judge for this Award.   No prior notice will be given of success in this Award category. 

Good luck with your entries!  Here's a link to the Entry Form  Any questions - don't hesitate to contact the Awards Office - see the "Helpline" including the 10 Top Tips to write a winning entry, FAQS and the judging process