by LINDA MARGISON
David Sipes believes “We started a credit union and created a community” is more than just a tag line—it’s how IU Credit Union, a nonprofit financial cooperative, has grown in the past 65 years. “We’re always looking for ways to make a positive and lasting impact,” says Sipes, senior vice president of marketing and business development. “We’re only as successful as our community.”
Chartered on February 15, 1956, IU Credit Union started when a handful of Indiana University employees decided a financial institution owned and operated by its membership would be beneficial for university employees and the community. “They literally put their money in a fund to loan to other people,” says CEO Bryan Price. “That is how it started, probably in a cardboard cigar box.”
That small founding membership has grown to nearly 70,000 members, about 210 employees across 10 locations, and assets exceeding $1.5 billion, Sipes says. “We feel like the cooperative financial model can thrive, and we’re clearly evidence that that business model can be particularly effective in the financial services marketplace,” Price adds.
IU Credit Union operates under a volunteer board of directors elected by its membership. “Volunteers have been absolutely critical to our success,” Price says. “They serve as a representative of the membership and have done well in their governance role at IU Credit Union for the 65 years that we’ve been in existence.”
Supporting community organizations and education have been part of the credit union’s rich tradition, Price says. IU Credit Union first funded a Wells Scholar in the 1980s and annually gives funds to numerous community groups. To celebrate its 65th anniversary, this summer the cooperative donated $1,300 apiece ($6,500 in all) to five local organizations chosen by the community: Edgewood High School Music and Theater, Teachers Warehouse, Alzheimer’s Association, New Hope Family Shelter, and the City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department.
“We’re going to continue on with supporting major projects and being a major player in our local community with initiatives we are very proud to be part of,” Price says, adding that the credit union recently pledged another $30,000 to New Hope.
“Our founders believed a member-owned financial institution would best serve the unique needs of the community,” Sipes says. “We stay true to those founding principles and core values and that’s positioned us naturally well to serve. We’re embedded in our community. It’s where we live and work and we’ll stay that way.”