by Doug True, CEO
Since 1941, FORUM Credit Union has proudly served our member/owners. Indiana Bell Telephone employees volunteered their time to start this not-for-profit financial cooperative to serve their fellow employees. From the humble beginnings just north of the Circle on Meridian Street, the Credit Union has proudly been serving the citizens of Indiana. Early in October, Indiana Governor Holcomb proclaimed the week of October 13-19, as Indiana Co-op week to recognize the work done for Hoosiers by cooperatives, like FORUM Credit Union, across the State.
Here at FORUM, as a not-for-profit financial cooperative, our business model follows the seven cooperative principles. Here is a look at these with some fun FORUM facts for each principle:
- Voluntary Membership – We are grateful for our growing membership. We now serve 157,084 members. Membership has grown 52% over the past 10 years, demonstrating the value of being a member/owner of the Credit Union.
- Democratic Member Control – On October 17, 2019, the day was recognized as International Credit Union Day and on this day, we held our October FORUM Board of Director meeting. Our nine volunteers serving as Directors are members of the Credit Union – just like you – and they meet once a month to help guide FORUM into the future.
- Members’ Economic Participation – Simply put, we take money into the Credit Union via deposits and we loan this same money out to members and member businesses. Your deposits (YOUR Checking, money market, certificates of deposit, Health Savings Account, etc.) are put back into your community by helping your fellow members buy a new car, build or purchase a home, help a local business expand, and even fund purchases via our FORUM credit card. We either return “profits” back to the membership or use them to better the cooperative in the form of investing in the future of the Credit Union. Examples include new branch locations (coming in 2020 to the East Fishers/McCordsville area), remodel existing branch locations (Park 100), or new member-touching technology (updated mobile app). We also give back financially to you – our member/owners. Through September, we have rewarded $1.3 million back to members who have a YOUR Checking account with us and another $300,000 to members who have a FORUM credit card.
- Autonomy & Independence – Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. As a FORUM member, you do not have to worry about your Credit Union being sold to another financial institution. We take pride in being an Indiana cooperative. Look around at our banking competitors and nearly every one of them is headquartered outside of Indiana. If you like the concept of “buy local”, then being a FORUM member is doing just that.
- Education, Training, and Information – Our 360 FORUM teammates are all ready and able to help you with your financial questions. We thrive on member education and it is at the center of what we do each and every day. Our website contains many financial resource calculators and videos to help you with your financial questions. We also do a lot of outreach with area employers who want financial education at their workplace. Another one of my favorites is our Chief Operating Officer Andy Mattingly’s weekly appearance on the noon news for our partner local CBS-4, where Andy covers a unique financial topic each Wednesday.
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives – Credit unions across our State and across the Country all share information on how to best serve our members and advocate on their behalf. We frequently host credit unions visiting FORUM to learn about our operation and we visit others as well. We also work with both State and Federal lawmakers to ensure regulations are member friendly.
- Concern for Community – FORUM cares about the communities we serve and gives back to them. Two examples are our Spirit of FORUM and our FORUM Foundation. Spirit of FORUM is a FORUM employee-led and funded charitable arm of the Credit Union. Each year FORUM employees can nominate and then vote on one charity to go deep with and truly make an impact. This year, the Diabetes Youth Foundation of Indiana is our charity of choice. Our teammates have significantly given of their time and treasures to this organization. We recently purchased a John Deere Gator for their camp and our employees have spent many hours sprucing up this camp for the children they serve. Our FORUM Foundation is funded internally by the Credit Union and is focused on education – scholarships and classroom grants. Young members are eligible to apply for college and trade school scholarships each year. Since 2015, we have given out $490,000 in scholarships to FORUM members. For 2019, we just recently announced $25,000 in classroom grants to local teachers. Eighteen teachers from eighteen unique schools were grant recipients.
Thank you for being a FORUM member. Your membership does more for your fellow members and your community than you probably have given thought to, so thanks for shopping local and being an owner of your not-for-profit financial cooperative known as FORUM.