This year, several credit unions have released social impact reports, which highlight their contribution to the wellbeing of their members and communities. We call this ‘measuring the credit union difference’, and we think it is a tremendous opportunity for credit unions to understand better how they benefit their members, how they can sustain their co-operative advantage over other providers and how this can be communicated more effectively to a range of stakeholders.

Reports from Bristol Credit Union (GB), Clockwise Credit Union (Leicester, GB), Donore Credit Union (Dublin, Ireland), Hoot Credit Union (Bolton, GB) and Serve & Protect Credit Union (GB) have covered differences including loan interest saved, credit scores improved, member financial wellbeing increased, local giving and strengthened community bonds. These reports use a range of approaches which we will discuss in a subsequent post. CFCFE is really pleased to see the emergence of these publications, and particularly that several CFCFE members are leading the sector in this way.

In 2018/19, in partnership with social finance consultancy Small Change, we worked with Hoot and Unify Credit Unions to develop a toolkit for credit unions to undertake a social impact report project. The CEO of Hoot, David Batten, observes of this process: “I started off wanting a £ value for the support provided by our partners, and I ended up with a process and outcome that has driven real change in the service we provide to our members.

In response to feedback, we have been working on refining and simplifying the toolkit, and are testing our approach with six CFCFE member credit unions in Wales (Cambrian Credit Union, Cardiff & Vale Credit Union, Celtic Credit Union, Dragonsavers Credit Union, Saveeasy Credit Union, and Smart Money Credit Union).

The CFCFE approach focuses on credit unions being clear about their purpose and objectives and then identifying the way in which their products, services, actions, interventions and partnerships support the achievement of those objectives. Criteria and metrics are identified by which those activities can be measured and evaluated. The findings feed directly into the continuous improvement process and strategic planning of the credit union, as well as offering a valuable contribution to marketing and promotions.

We will be releasing our updated materials later this year. In the meantime, we will soon publish a report by Dr Olive McCarthy of Cork University Business School on how credit unions view the challenges and opportunities presented by social impact measurement and reporting, to be followed by a webinar where credit unions can hear from Olive and CFCFE directly, and discuss the challenges and opportunities with experts and peers.

If you have any queries on social impact reporting, please contact Dr Paul A Jones,