Edward Filene Credit Union Awards for Performance Excellence

By stretching themselves and their organisations, the entrants for all categories are the real change makers, the Winners are the “real deal” and should be applauded.

Neither the "Filenes" nor the "Bidens" are a “shoe in”.  The entry process is hard, being a test of an individual’s and a credit union’s .....

  • Energy – unflagging stamina
  • Enthusiasm – motivating self and others
  • Expertise – knowing what to do in a given situation
  • Experience – a mature and balanced approach
  • Endeavour – showing versatility to overcome problems
  • Enterprise – developing  trading skills
  • Evolution – recognising the need to change track
  • Empathy – appreciating the needs of and having the ability to dispense “tough love” to others
  • Selflessness – the strength of character to put the desired objective before the individual
  • Self sacrifice – the acceptance of some personal discomfort to achieve the objective

The Filene's promote the improvement of performance excellence of individual activists and credit unions in Great Britain and Ireland in serving their own fields of membership and their wider communities, with the aim of inspiring, mobilising and galvanising them to demonstrate to others their achievements and accomplishments over a wide range of activities in which all credit unions should be involved, with the aim of giving all consumers the better alternative choice for financial services - the co-operative one! 

The Awards are a test of a credit union's or an individual's trading and operational abilities - entries for any category should not be based on any type of grant funding, although what would be acceptable is working in conjunction or partnership with other bodies in both the public and private sectors - being paid by them or taking loans at commercial rates to deliver a project. The Awards are also designed to encourage different parts of the credit union – volunteer lay leaders and various levels of management - to work together to successfully meet the criteria of each category.

The entry period of 1st July 2019 to 30th June 2020 covers projects and every day business and community activities initiated or ongoing during the period.  All entries should be original, although previous Award entrants are welcome to submit new and improved entries in categories entered before.  There's no limit on the number of categories that can be entered - in fact it takes a minimum of entry in six categories to challenge for the Supreme Award, the Edward Filene Credit Union Award for Social Entrepreneurship - only entrants from Great Britain and Ireland are eligible for the Supreme Award.  

After a very successful launch in 2019, when three categories of the "Leadership" classification were extended to international participation, five categories in "Community Outreach" are included this year and are indicated (*International)   

The three Award classifications - Leadership, Enterprise and Community Outreach - are set out below.  To be considered for the Supreme Award for Social Entrepreneurship, credit unions (GB & Ireland only) should submit entries for a minimum of six categories, with at least one from each of the classifications - there's no maximum. The Judges will be looking for entrants to meet the criteria of each category and full descriptions of these can be found by clicking on the classification titles or the menu bars, where you will also find the "Helpline", e.g FAQs, the 10 Top Tips for writing a winning entry and the scoring process used by the Judging Panel (it is highly recommended notice is taken of these to give your entries the best chance of scoring highly). 

This link takes you to the Entry Form - do contact us at the Awards Office with any queries and guidance on the Awards criteria.

The Edward Filene Supreme Award for Social Entrepreneurship (applicable only to Great Britain and Ireland) 
(Traditionally the name of the winning credit union is known only to the Co-Trustees before presentation at the Awards Celebratory Dinner)  
  • This is awarded for the highest aggregate score across all three classifications and sixteen categories
  • Provided the entry criteria are met, there is no maximum number of categories that can be entered, in fact the more entries, the greater the chance of success!
  • Each category should have an individual and separate entry that meets the different criteria required for that particular category.

If insufficient Award categories are entered by too few credit unions, the Supreme Award is not made - this has happened in previous years.

Credit union leaders are "grown" - learning their craft, growing through this process and stretching their abilities by actively serving others. Leaders are not necessarily delivered by the democratic process or by being appointed to a paid position.  Previous winners of the Leadership categories have demonstrated their dedication, drive, initiative and natural leadership qualities, performing well beyond the line of duty.

Excellence shown in performance by

  1. A Founder member of a Credit Union or a Single Benefactor or Donor to it. (*International)
  2. A Credit Union Leader - President, Board Chairperson, Chief Executive Officer/General Manager (or equivalent, paid or unpaid) of a credit union (*International)
  3. A Young Leader, either paid or unpaid, aged between 16 & 35 years (as at 30 June 2020) (*International)
  4. A "Back Office" management/staff member
  5. A "Front Office" Customer Services Officer

ENTERPRISE      "First of all credit unions are a businessRoy Bergegren, CEO of CUNA, USA - February 1928
All credit unions are businesses that must produce proven economic outputs.  A viable credit union can instigate and drive worthwhile social change - a desire for social change cannot drive a business, that is an authorised and regulated "Firm".

Excellence shown in performance ....

  1. By a credit union hosting:-  Young Savers Schemes in Primary and Secondary Schools - 4-16 years
                                 Young Adults Schemes in Further Education/Universities/Colleges and the workplace 
  2. By a credit union striving for the "Big Challenge" Award - read more
  3. By a credit union pursuing International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) Principle 6 “Co-operation amongst Co-operatives" 
  4. By a credit union demonstrating achievement of Prudential Standards - read more  
  5. By the “Friends” of a credit union - an entirely separate entity to a credit union, enabling it to undertake non-regulated activities, including fundraising for good causes

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.   They have the unique "credit union difference" of providing personal individualised services to its "owner-members", who own the business, unlike other financial services businesses who service "customers" for the benefit of arms-length shareholders.

Excellence shown in performance ....

  1. The Minerva Award - empowerment of girls and women, enabling them to improve their life choices through financial education (*International)
  2. The Millennial Award - addressing the specific requirements of young people (30 and under), including encouraging their involvement in the running of credit unions (*International)
  3. The Ecumenical Award - demonstration of active outreach to all faith groups, accommodating, where possible, the specific requirements of different belief systems
  4. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals - demonstrating the credit union's efforts to engage with and achieve some or all of these goals (listed here) (*Internationall)
  5. By engaging in direct credit union advocacy with local and national politicians (*International)
  6. In use of the media - how does your credit union inform the consumer that it's there? (*International)  

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

This Award is open to credit unions winning one or more categories (1-16 above), 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 and the points scored totalled, will the invitations go out to the successful credit unions to make this film, so winning this category will not count towards the Supreme Award.  The film editor, who compiles these films into an edited loop, acts as the Judge for this Award.  Success in this Award category is announced at the Awards Celebratory Dinner with no prior notice.   

Good luck with your entries!   Any questions - don't hesitate to contact the Awards Office - see the "Helpline", also on the menu bars above and below