LGBTQ Credit Union Movement Aims to Crowd-Fund Charter

Watch this video to learn more about the vision behind Equality Credit Union.

Equality Washington, the Seattle-based effort to open a credit union for the LGBTQ community, launched a crowd-funding campaign yesterday to raise $50,000 to see it through the chartering process. The group plans to open Equality Credit Union in the first half of next year.

“The LGBTQ community needs a financial institution that is committed to our community’s unique needs, values and goals,” said Phillip Endicott, Equality Washington’s founder and president. “A member-owned credit union will allow us to invest in our community in a way that a for-profit bank cannot.”

The fundraising campaign is hosted on Indiegogo, a popular crowd-funding website. Donations received will support the group’s work to charter and found Equality Credit Union, helping to pay for fundamentals like the cost of attorneys and CPAs, and for strategic initiatives like outreach to potential members, partnership building and polishing a three-year business plan.

The group recently received its 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, and donations to the campaign are tax deductible.

Equality Washington is currently in discussions with several local credit unions, exploring partnerships to expedite and support the chartering and founding process. Possibilities include merging with an existing credit union and being incubated or mentored by a larger credit union.

“Credit unions are founded on cooperation,” said Endicott. “We’re exploring relationships that could leverage existing resources to best serve the greater community, including and in our case especially the LGBTQ community.”

Equality Washington recently conducted a survey of potential members through targeted distribution to LGBTQ and progressive organizations. Of those who responded, 82% said they would open accounts in the first year. Respondents also cited reinvestment in the community as the most important reason to open an account, and ownership of the credit union by its members as the second most important reason.

Endicott and Equality Washington Vice President Andrew Tasakos recently attended Filene’s big. bright. minds. in Tuscon, Arizona, where they pitched their vision to Filene’s i3 innovation group as a potential research initiative exploring new credit union models and frameworks. “We had some really incredible experiences there in terms of relationship building,” said Endicott.

They are also building partnerships in the Seattle community, both with LGBTQ business associations to learn who uniquely meets that community’s needs, and with restaurant groups to respond to recent immigrants and restaurant employees with financial challenges.

To learn more about Equality Washington, visit their website and their Indiegogo campaign.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org. 

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