Confusion Surrounding CDCUs Hurts Movement

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When is a "CDCU" not a CDCU? The electronic edition of CU Journal of October 18, carried the story, "Another CDCU Folds." The article concerns Ebeneezer FCU, a small credit union in Fort Washington, Maryland.

CU Journal's characterization is misleading and harmful. A community development credit union (CDCU) is a credit union that belongs to the National Federation of CDCUs. Ebeneezer FCU has never been a member of the Federation. In the past, we have repeatedly attempted to clarify to the CU Journal that a credit union is not authorized to use the term "community development credit union" unless it is a member of the Federation.

In its defense, CU Journal staff has responded to us previously that a "low-income credit union" and "CDCU" are terms that are often used interchangeably. That may be so, but it is inaccurate. There are hundreds of "low-income credit unions" that are not CDCUs and do not see themselves that way. "Low-income credit union" is an official designation provided by a regulatory agency, usually NCUA-not by the Federation.

Moreover, Ebeneezer FCU was not even designated as low-income. What, then, were the CU Journal's grounds for anointing Ebeneezer FCU a "CDCU?" That it was a faith-based credit union? (Ebeneezer FCU served members of an AME church.) That it was small? (There are thousands of small credit unions left, although they are disappearing rapidly.) That presumably the credit union served African-Americans?

Reporting adverse news inaccurately is harmful to the CDCU movement and to the Federation. Yes, terminology can be confusing. But as one of the leading media outlets covering the credit union movement, The Credit Union Journal should hold itself to a higher standard of accuracy and consistency.

Clifford N. Rosenthal, Executive Director, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.

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