Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: community (page 1 of 3)

A Mission You Can Bank On

Originally published on

A recent post, Giving Back Has ROI, Too, linked your charitable efforts with your growth strategy. You can do the most for all parties when your “good” aligns with your mission. It keeps everyone more engaged, provides the best opportunities for cross-promotion, and clearly defines your purpose in the community.

Already well-aligned with the areas of community you support? That’s great! You can go even further.

Your product lineup is boring. It’s the same as every other credit union and bank. Checking, savings, lending, and maybe investments. On their own, these provide no differentiation or excitement. However, what if you designed these offerings to directly benefit those you help? A successful strategy can help gain new (profitable) members while making a difference beyond contributions.

A previous post dove into this concept with two interviews. One was of a credit union in California, CCCU. The other, Vancity, out of Canada. Both integrated their giving into their products. The former supported local students with scholarships, using funding from interchange fees. The latter donated a portion of their profits from their credit cards. Both times, members have a direct hand in the positive impacts of their credit union. In fact, if not for the members’ actions, these contributions would never have occurred.

Here’s another way to integrate closely with your core mission. A credit union local to me, Grow Financial, uses a leaf as their logo. This was not a random choice by the board. It was selected for two reasons (of which I’ve learned). The first you’d expect: I want my money somewhere it can “Grow”, and leaves are a tangible symbol of growth. The second is for their environmental focus. Grow’s headquarters is LEED certified (uses less resources to run, built with local materials, maintains high indoor air quality, etc.). They support environmental charities. Being “green” is who they are.

How about you? What’s your raison d’etre? Now it’s time to brainstorm how you can merge that into your “boring” banking solutions. Maybe that means working with one in your community (or a variety if serving large areas). Maybe that means starting your own! Besides making a positive impact, it can rally existing members and attract new ones!

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Giving Back Has ROI, Too

Originally published on

Does your credit union give back? That’s a silly question. But does your community support program intricately tie in with member engagement?

A friend of mine used to work for the local chapter of the American Heart Association. After a few years there, she started her own company. It brings non-profits together with companies whose mission aligned with theirs. Essentially, she is a charity to corporate matchmaker.

At first glance, this seems pretty simple. Find company with money (usually through a foundation), bring together with non-profit which needs money. Now pay me a small consultant fee. Not so fast. It turns out, companies started looking at their give back campaigns differently. Instead of just “doing a good thing”, they wanted said good thing to do more. If we’re spending money, the thought process goes, why not have it improve employee satisfaction? Or serve as cause-based marketing to our current and prospective clientele? And charities began to have the same thoughts.

Just as two random single people are not necessarily a good match, the same goes between companies and charities. My friend learns about the core mission and motivations of every client before recommending a pairing. That way, everyone is more engaged, supportive, and excited about the alignment.

Take your credit union. Say you offer a need-based mortgage assistance program. Partnering with a pet rescue charity is fine. Woof. Meow. But imagine if you aligned with a non-profit which helps place struggling and displaced families into low-cost and subsidized housing? Their mission and that of your credit union are the same. You’re a match. And it shows with staff who are excited to volunteer and talk about it to their members (who are then encouraged to help where they can). Heck, some of those members might even be beneficiaries of the charity. Think of the legen-wait for it-dary social media campaign you could set up. So much good can be done for so many, and your credit union can grow in the process. I think it’s safe to say all the families helped by the charity would become members of your credit union. And based on how you treat them like family, they’re not likely to leave. In fact, they’ll probably tell their friends and family about you.

When you get out of the daily grind and remember why you exist, these types of alliances seem so obvious. And it can give your entire team the motivation to serve at their peak abilities. Giving back really does have an ROI.

Since this post is already too long, a future one will dive into some stories of credit unions following this path. Spoiler: Their staff and members love it. So does the bottom line.

April Fool’s – The Most Elaborate Hoax…Or Is It?

“With low rates, minimal fees, and a focus on the community, it has to be a joke, right?”

And thus begins the most intriguing post of the year.

Conveniently shared on April 1st, known world-wide as April Fool’s Day, an unnamed blogger drew all the wrong conclusions. Here’s a piece:

“…planning went deep, as one study found there to be thousands of these institutions across just the United States alone. Estimates put their total member base at 100 million, meaning that one in three Americans are a part of this intricate plot. Imagine the time it took to put this together! Not only that, but all these “credit unions”, as they call themselves, appear to work together. Through something called Shared Branches, a person can walk into a credit union they’ve never met and deposit or withdraw money…from their own account! And you thought Google went overboard with their April Fool’s jokes. A moon base? That’s nothing compared to a nationwide agreement of shared banking.”

They continued in this manner for another few paragraphs before reaching this gem:

“Oh, and there are no additional fees to do this. Tell me that isn’t the most unbelievable gag you’ve ever heard!”

This blogger proceeded to analyze how credit unions are not-for-profit entities, serving their community rather than a room of stockholders:

“Typical banking involves fees. It has to. How else can an institution make any money? With interest rates where they are, fee-structures are essential to maintaining a profitable outlook. But here they claim to be something called ‘not-for-profit’, meaning that all money made after expenses goes back to the members [emphasis original]. They call them dividends. I call it an elaborate prank.”

As you know, this blogger got it all wrong, and credit unions do, in fact, exist. Contrary to that perspective, they do work on a not-for-profit basis, and have at their core the best interests of their membership. It would appear that the unbelievability of these truths were too much for them.

Or, they were right, and the entire thing has been one enormous practical joke. Are you in on it? And, if so, can I make a withdrawal? As the blogger concluded:

“If, by some wild miracle, I am incorrect in these analyses, and credit unions are actually a crucial part of our society, then it is high time for me to find one which I can join. Only then will I be able to learn if the credit union idea is an intricate joke. Or, perhaps, the joke has been on me and the time and money I’ve spent in endless battles with my current financial institution.”

Happy April Fool’s Day, unnamed blogger. And take a look at A Smarter Choice to find a credit union for you. Also, watch out for those pranksters…it seems as if they’ll do anything to pull one over on everyone nowadays!

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