Credit unions, like Solarity, are not-for-profit financial cooperatives. This means we are owned and operated by our members and therefore make every business decision with our members in mind. Conversely, banks are for-profit institutions owned by shareholders. This means the two entities function very differently, specifically through:
- Ownership: Credit unions are owned by their members, who are our customers. Each member has an equal say in how the credit union is run, regardless of the amount of money they have in the bank.
- Not-for-profit: Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations, meaning that they exist to serve their members, rather than to maximize profits for shareholders.
- Member-focused: Credit unions prioritize the needs and interests of their members, offering personalized service and competitive rates and fees. Any profit is reinvested back in the organization, typically in the form of lower rates and reduced fees.
- Community-oriented: Credit unions are often deeply involved in their local communities, supporting local causes and organizations. In 2022, Solarity invested more than $125,000 in the Yakima Valley in donations and sponsorships alone.
Solarity's impact on the community
When you belong to a credit union, the money you deposit is used to fund loans that help other members achieve their financial goals. This money helps support and grow the local economy. In 2022, we assisted our members by funding $232 million in home and vehicle loans. In fact, Solarity helped more local homeowners than any other lender! We successfully assisted 352 members in financing their homeownership dreams, or nearly $72 million in home loans. Additionally, we supported our real estate investors by financing projects that further provide housing for roughly 2,366 people, through $82.5 million in commercial lending.
The credit union difference
Solarity is a member of GoWest, a six-state organization serving more than 300 credit unions and their 16.5 million members. According to GoWest, credit unions in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming delivered $1.1 billion in direct benefits to their member-owners, provided more than 35,350 family-wage jobs, and impacted the economy to the tune of $21.2 billion. Member benefits are calculated by accounting for differences between not-for-profit credit union and for-profit bank fees and rates. In this graphic provided by GoWest, you can see Solarity's impact:
How to become a member
Membership at Solarity is free and starts when you open a savings account with a $5 deposit. As a member, you are entitled to all the benefits and resources we have to offer. Solarity membership is open to everyone! You can become a Solarity member if one or more of the following applies:
- You live, work, attend school or worship in a Washington state school district
- You have a family member who is already a Solarity member
- You are a member of the GoWest Foundation – become a Friend of the Foundation for a nominal donation. The GoWest Foundation is a non-profit that promotes asset building, economic empowerment and cooperative development.
Want to learn more? Visit our JOIN page.