by: Christopher Morris, Director of Communications, National Credit Union Foundation
Last month I took my family to the annual Willy St. Co-Op Membership Meeting & Party and had a great time. We got a free gift bag and dinner, rode a ferris wheel, listened to the membership meeting, heard some good live music, and more. We also had free ice cream.
I wasn’t the only one there. Over 4,000 Willy St. Co-op members were in attendance. Now keep in mind that the Willy St. Co-op is a very popular food co-op in town, with over 29,000 members. Still though, that means that about 14% of their members showed up to their annual meeting. How many attend yours? 100? 1,000?
Most credit union folks that I talk to have a hard time attracting members to their annual meeting. Not all, but most. You probably have it down to a stale routine – grab the space, pick a different entree for dinner (or appetizers), someone goes up to a podium reads a written report, officers are elected, Zzzzzzz. Willy St. actually has members clamoring for their tickets and almost all tickets are picked up in advance of the meeting. It’s not only a meeting, it’s a party.
So how does Willy St. Co-op do it? They work with the organizers of La Fête de Marquette in town, which is an annual French festival. The festival takes place from Friday to Sunday and is equipped like carnival grounds with tents, stage and sound system for bands, rides and more. The night before, the Willy St. Co-Op Membership Meeting & Party takes place and is able to make good use of the facilities for their members’ benefit.
Is there a local event in your town you can partner with? Any existing community partners you can work with to make your annual meeting a “must attend” event? Can you create a community service event as part of your annual meeting to illustrate how your credit union helps “build a better world”? Can you position it as a “member appreciation day” and provide incentives such as celebrity speakers and cash for members to attend? Can you have a contest internally to come up with new ideas? That new teller you just hired might have some fresh insight into what would get his or her friends to attend.
The point is this: You have to have an annual meeting. Why not make it worth attending?
Christopher Morris is currently the Director of Communications for the National Credit Union Foundation, which is widely recognized as the national charitable arm of America’s credit union movement under the mission of “making financial freedom achievable through credit unions.” Previously, he was Communications & Web Resources Manager for the CUNA Councils, a national organization for credit union professionals. www.www.ncuf.coop
Christopher blogs on a number of industry sites, is an editor at CUwatercooler.com and was a member of Filene Research Institute’s 30 under 30 group. Before entering the credit union system, Christopher was a high school English teacher and is a veteran of the United States Army.
When he is not working, Christopher is playing and writing music as 1/2 of The Disclosures, an acoustic “thrift-rock” music group from the land of credit unions. Their first album, “(Hey, We’re) The Disclosures” was released in March, 2011.