by: Jennifer Bernhardt, Communications Manager, World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU)
International Credit Union Day is just around the corner. Every year, we rally around a common theme, find examples within our own credit union and look to the global movement for inspiration. This year’s theme – Members Matter Most – can easily get lost in the rhetoric because it’s a phrase that is familiar, common sense, no different than “everyday business.”
But do your members know that meeting their needs is your “everyday business”?
Do your members know what a credit union truly is? Do they know they have a say in how their credit union is run? What differentiates their credit union from the financial institution down the road? That you can work with them at any stage of their life, regardless of income level?
I’ve been a credit union member since my first year of college. At the time, I had no idea that I was becoming a “member” or that the $5 minimum savings balance that enticed me to join was actually my share in the institution. I signed up because that $5 balance was something I could afford, and the university credit union ATMs were convenient and surcharge-free. That’s how they roped me in.
I’ve stayed because I trust my credit union. I trust they want the best for me and that they are not going to try to sell me something I don’t need or can’t afford. When I call or visit, I speak to a credit union employee who seems genuine, real and ready to help. When I use the web branch and online tools, I’m consistently amazed at how much better they are than those I use for my much larger bank-issued credit card.
To be honest, the “credit union difference” we so proudly proclaim is less about the fact that credit unions are structured differently. As much as I believe in the democratic process, I don’t keep tabs on who sits on my credit union’s board. What is important to me is that I feel understood, appreciated, helped. The “difference” is that members really do feel they matter most at the moment they interact with their credit union.
As your credit union celebrates ICU Day next week, I hope you not only celebrate your members, but that you celebrate the great service you provide that draws them in and keeps them coming back.
I encourage you to take a photo, write a note or make a short video of your “credit union difference” and share them through the ICU Day Facebook page. You can also send them to CUNA’s Credit Union Magazine firstname.lastname@example.org, which will put together this year’s submissions and display them online.
From one happy credit union member, thank you. And Happy International Credit Union Day!