Everyone who knows me knows how much I love working at Vancity. The authentic desire to improve the lives of our members and the people in their communities through the tools of co-operative finance is staggeringly impressive, and keeps me coming back as a totally engaged employee day after day, year after year.
And this year Vancity is taking a big step in transparency and authenticity by releasing our Three Year Plan to the public. This is the document released to our staff (with incredibly minor changes for public consumption), so that internally we all understand where our visionary board and executive are steering the ship for the next three years, and where we need to focus our energies.
I draw attention to this because I think the plan is incredibly relevant to our members, and perhaps even more so to our sister credit unions and co-operatives, as well as values-based banks and organizations focused on marrying their economic performance with environmental and/or social performance. I imagine that accessing a document like this would be valuable to many of the people I meet at conferences, including notably the CU Water Cooler Symposium (get your Super Earlybird tickets now!), throughout the year who ask about what Vancity is doing and how we do it.
My favorite part of the plan is the clarity with which we speak about serving the needs of the real economy:
We take a long term view of what is happening in the economy by looking beyond the financial markets to the production of goods and services that impact people’s daily lives. This is the real economy and the context within which we are redefining wealth and building healthy communities.
By deeply understanding the needs of the real economy, we see our members and communities differently. While traditional economic outlooks focus exclusively on what the market gives, we are asking a different question. What is the size of the opportunity through which we can redefine wealth and accelerate impact? Where are the needs that are not being met and what is the opportunity for Vancity to develop innovative solutions to meet those needs?
I love working at Vancity because we’re a Why organization, clear on why we exist, not only how we do what we do. The plan starts with a letter from Tamara Vrooman, our CEO who says that “We are creating a roadmap not following one.” I’m excited to be sharing our plans and challenges with you, and hope it inspires some to think boldly about the role our credit union movement can play in the creation of a more sustainable, equable yet vibrant local economy.
William Azaroff lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He is Director, Business & Community Development at Vancity, a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its 500,000 member-owners and their communities. William leads a team who work with local businesses, not-for-profits, social enterprises and co-operatives that contribute to a vibrant, sustainable, inclusive local economy, and engage Vancity's members and the public around their Good Money™ brand.