Let’s start with the “more good work to do” part. You’ve heard a lot about financial well-being for all from the National Credit Union Foundation over the past couple of years. But really, what are we talking about here?
An individual’s financial well-being is as much to do with how they feel about their money as it is how they use it. A person’s financial well-being is unique, and it ebbs and flows with them. It’s a positive that the credit union system is aligning around improving financial well-being for all, but it’s clear there’s more good work to do.
The Foundation is a co-member of the Financial Health Network with Members Development Company (MDC). The Network recently released its annual FinHealth Pulse 2022 U.S. Trends Report and for the first time in the report’s five-year history, people’s financial health declined.
One more time: financial health has declined for Americans.
This means that over 176 million people in our own backyard are financially unhealthy. These are our employees, neighbors, and family members. As credit unions, we need to double-down on placing the financial well-being of our employees and the people we serve at the heart of our strategy. How can we think differently about our success, how can we measure it, and how can we do more to positively impact the nation’s financial resiliency and health?
This is the enduring work of the Foundation—serving as a catalyst to improve people’s financial lives through credit unions. We catalyze by connecting credit union successes to the practical steps of embedding financial well-being in all that we do.
Another clear way we do this is by transforming our donors’ generosity into impactful grants. Here’s an example: We are at the close of a grant project that provided smaller credit unions access to demographic and financial health data to better inform who and how they serve. Our regular check-ins revealed the multicultural market in their areas has been underserved, and they were missing opportunities to help the broader community.
Here’s what Kurtis Kelly, marketing and community development manager at Washington State’s Canopy Credit Union, said: “We didn’t know what opportunities we were missing until we had the data. That really has been the value. The grant helped remove some of our blinders. It’s been a great steppingstone for us to start a conversation with our employees, our members and our broader community to learn how to authentically serve their needs.”
This grant has shown that when a credit union is equipped with its members’ demographic and financial health data, its strategic direction, growth opportunities and impact can grow exponentially.
Now for the “draw inspiration from those we honor” part.
More than ever, our system is focused on financial well-being for all and realizes its importance. We’re seeing credit unions moving the needle on employees’ financial well-being, empowering their teams to lend with their heads and hearts and responding to help our colleagues when disaster strikes. Work like this inspires me and makes me hopeful.
While times may be tough, it is important that we don’t lose hope. That’s why the Foundation also helps celebrate and recognize the successes of our movement, like the four credit union leaders who will be honored with a Herb Wegner Memorial Award at our Foundation Dinner during CUNA’s GAC.
These four deserved winners are true beacons of light for the movement. Their continued vision and leadership has made an immeasurable impact on credit unions worldwide.
Keep an eye out on the Foundation’s social media and website for compelling stories about each of these leaders. Be inspired by the actions they’ve taken to help countless people be financially well. Think about what takeaways you can use in your work and at your credit union to meet your employees and the people you serve where they are in their financial lives.
Those we honor are incredible examples of financial well-being for all in action. Look at those examples and set your sights on helping your employees and those you serve achieve financial freedom. That is the good work that we collectively need to do.