Edward Filene Credit Union Awards for Excellence - ENTERPRISE Entry Criteria

All credit unions are businesses that must produce proven economic outputs.  A viable credit union business can instigate and drive worthwhile social change.  A desire for social change cannot drive a business.  

"Credit unions are first a business" - Roy Bergegren, First Chief Executive Officer, Credit Union National Association, USA
“Credit unions are about the economy” - Roger Marsh, Head of Credit Union Section, Prudential Regulation Authority
"A credit union must do well to do good" - Marlene Shiels, OBE, I-CUDE, Chief Executive Officer, Capital Credit Union Ltd, Edinburgh

It’s crucial for credit unions to develop existing skills, acquire new ones and adapt ethically to all methods of trading used by their competitors and devise newer ones of their own for their furtherance and survival in the competitive market - the financial services industry, where the consumer has many choices - demonstrating continuously the core values of the mutual ownership co-operative decision making nature of “our firms”. 

These techniques can attract the savings of new and current owner-members wishing to obtain an investment return on their deposits and dispensing of loans to these people “for a provident and prudent purpose” of a greater amount than that held in their deposits.

Excellence shown in performance by a credit union hosting:-

  • Young Savers Schemes in Primary and Secondary Schools - 4-16 years
  • Young Adults Schemes in Secondary Schools/Further Education/Universities/Colleges and the workplace 

Financial education is of course a continuous process from the primary school level until the “University of the Third Age” - so there shouldn't be a “cut off” at primary school level.  Please provide full details, describing

  • How the credit union progressed in one or more of the above at each stage of the educational path.
  • How does the credit union inspire each group of young people, to become as much as possible self programming groups, taking on increasing responsibilities for their own “branch” of the credit union?
  • How does the credit union encourage responsible continued saving and responsible borrowing at the tertiary education level to pay for “career development loans”?
  • At all stages of the education trail, how does your credit union explain and impart the “credit union difference” to young people?

Excellence shown in performance in achieving business growth, applying internal innovatory methods and mobilising external support from the private sector.  Some indicators (but not all) are long term increases in:

  • Business Growth
  • Net aggregate and maintained increases in owner-members recruited, savings mobilised, loans granted.
  • Gross revenues produced from all regulated and trading activities undertaken
  • Productivity increases signified by the control to all expenditure and steady increases in net surpluses.
  • Reserves of all types and dividends paid.
  • What was the requirement for external support, finance or other resources, i.e. premises, equipment, etc?
  • Were each provided and was there a cost that the credit union had to meet?
  • What if any was the social improvement or gain to the community served by the credit union?

Money or facilities obtained from grants invalidate the entry.  However, donations of any type, loans taken at commercial rates or fees earned from commercial activity are permitted.  As the evidence requested for this entry could be commercially sensitive only the Awards Office and the Judges will know of it and it will not be disclosed to any other party without the prior consent of the entrant.  Please provide full details

  • External Support
  • Why was trading innovation required?
  • What were the actions taken?
  • How much did they cost?
  • How were the funds provided and for how much?
  • How were any tangible facilities required/provided and what was the cost to the credit union?
  • What was the trading gain to the credit union?
  • What, if any was the social gain to the community served by the credit union?

Excellence shown in performance setting up (and if necessary taking down) "Pop Up" credit union services, as traditional "bricks and mortar" premises are an expensive footprint, for instance ....     

  • Does the credit union take its services to possible consumers of them, rather than the reverse?
  • Does the Credit Union take full advantage of the remote electronic banking software that is portable?
  • How does the credit union run “pop up” branches?
  • What (if any) operational difficulties were identified, overcome and what expenditure was incurred?
  • What “bottom line” benefits were achieved for the credit union?
  • What are the social benefits for the community?

Excellence shown in performance by a credit union pursuing International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Principle 6 "Co-operation amongst Co-operatives", i.e. outreaching to other co-operators and co-operatives within their Common Bonds, encouraging and providing them with opportunities to take advantage of the banking and loans facilities offered by credit unions, for instance -

  • How did the credit union identify the potential market and outreach to it for the benefit of both parties?
  • How did the credit union explain the benefits of inter-trading between different co-operatives in line with ICA Principle 6?
  • As co-operators of all types of “non-external profit” businesses, if necessary, what did the credit union have to do to alter its existing products and services to satisfy this market?

Excellence shown in performance by a credit union serving as a financial incubator for seed, small and medium sized businesses operated by owner-members

Dynamic credit union operations in many parts of the developing and developed world are major providers of finance and business guidance to owner-members requiring micro-loans (loans of a few pounds or euros) to start a new small business, develop an existing one, providing a livelihood to the owner-members and creating employment others working for the business.

Again as some of the responses required here are commercially sensitive, only the Awards Office and the Judges know of them and they won’t be published other than with the consent of the entrant.  Please provide full details

  • What are the savings facilities provided to owner-members operating their own businesses?
  • How are the loan applications made by owner-members appraised?
  • What types of loans are given for business purposes to owner-members?
  • What sort of general financial guidance is given to the owner-member loan applicant borrowing for business purposes?
  • How much aggregated business loan revenue is generated for the credit union?
  • Can any measurement be given on the number of jobs created as a result of loans being given to owner-members running their own businesses?

Excellence shown in performance by the “Friends” of a credit union and acting as a hub for activities that are not part of credit union regulated business  

By setting up a “Friends” - an entirely separate entity to the credit union (a legal requirement as a credit union can only undertake regulated business) - a credit union can establish an independent trading arm as a charitable company (no external share holders) or a community interest company – not a subsidiary company of the credit union, which would be prohibited by the 1979 Credit Union Act.

This entity can (say) run an owner-member only closed lottery, a co-operative food store, operate a food bank, run after school clubs, set up an enterprise zone/premises for local businesses that will empower people socially and economically, etc. etc.  Trading surpluses are donated to the credit union or used to purchase things on its behalf, establish a welfare arm for owner-members in distress, make charitable donations – some of these can be taxable events so speak to a local credit union auditor.   

  • What are the purposes of the “Friends” of the credit union?
  • What activities do the “Friends” organise and undertake to raise funds?
  • What are the raised funds used for?
  • What other organisations has the “Friends” assisted with donations and facilities?
  • What assistance have other organisations given the “Friends” in its endeavours?  


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!   Any questions - don't hesitate to contact the Awards Office - see the "Helpline", also on the menu above