On President’s Day 2019, as I was heading home from keynoting the all-employee celebration for KALSEE Credit Union in Michigan, I jotted down two simple questions: “How many members and employees actually appear in photos on CU websites? Does it matter?”
Those 15 words launched a year-long journey of discovery called the Credit Union Photography Project, arguably the largest research effort of its kind in the history of our movement.
CUPP united a small group of volunteers from across our industry who were so motivated to find the answers that they sacrificed their free time to classify 54,597 photographs on 1,596 credit union websites:
- Paul McManus, Piedmont Advantage Credit Union
- Michelle Hoppenjan, Ascentra Credit Union
- Kelly Jones, Des Moines Metro Credit Union
- Tara Roether, Mountain West Credit Union Association
- Gabrielle Wright, Members Choice WV FCU
- Emily Ovel, Collins Community Credit Union
- Aubrey Ward, CUNA
- Brittany Gerst
They are the real heroes of CUPP. I can’t thank them enough for making it possible.
Andrea Dose and Jodi Allen (Iowa Credit Union League), Eileen Burden (Kentucky Credit Union League), and Jose Ortiz (Ohio Credit Union League) graciously let me share some of the early CUPP research findings during my sessions for their respective conferences.
In a few short hours, CUNA’s Kristin Ryan assembled a master list of all US credit unions – complete with asset sizes, location, and website – into a 33,780-cell file so perfect that it should be in the Spreadsheet Hall of Fame (totally not a thing but should be). Her belief in the goals of the project saved it from languishing in a forgotten page of an old Moleskine notebook. Thank you, my friend, for your servant’s heart.
Robbie Young of CUInsight patiently accommodated my requests to use photos from my library for my articles, which probably put me in CUInsight’s High-Maintenance Community Writer Hall of Fame (totally not a thing but should be).
That story had blunt answers to the first question I posed: 70% of all photos on the credit union websites studied were stock, nearly 84% of those sites don’t have a single image of an actual member, and real employees appear in barely 12% of photos.
For me, it comes down to one final question: what do we love more – our members, or their money?
In our photos, we’ll find our answer.