Invest in America Wins Wegner Award for Outstanding Program
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Madison, Wis. – In just a few years, Invest in America (IIA) has made a notable impact on the credit union industry. Whether it’s raising awareness of the benefits of credit union membership, providing consumers with discounts, supporting credit unions with a program designed to increase member loyalty, or funding financial literacy initiatives such as Biz Kid$, IIA has proven to be a unique and beneficial credit union program. In recognition of this innovation and its positive effects on the credit union industry, the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) is pleased to announce Invest in America as the winner of the 2012 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Program.
This will be one of three Herb Wegner Memorial Awards presented at a special dinner hosted by NCUF at the Grand Hyatt Washington on March 19, 2012 —Monday night of the Credit Union National Association’s 2012 Governmental Affairs Conference. Online registration for dinner tickets will be available later this year on the NCUF website (www.ncuf.coop).
“Rarely has the Awards and Nominating Committee collective scored a program so high,” said NCUF Awards & Recognition Committee Chairman Bob Schumacher. “When you look at the numbers that support Invest in America’s efforts, the outcome is so overwhelming, it’s hard to grasp or comprehend all its immensity.”
IIA is Investing in America through Credit Unions
By participating in Invest in America, members save money on every day purchases, credit unions increase loans, income and member loyalty, while credit unions and their members simultaneously support American companies. Invest in America was first started in late 2008 by CUcorp, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Michigan Credit Union League, which later became CU Solutions Group, a national marketing company which currently manages the program. Through IIA, credit unions could band together to promote and support not only their own products and services, but also those offered by collaborative American-based companies, such as General Motors (GM) or Sprint. Credit union members were given discounts to the companies, which in turn drove membership growth and loyalty. Invest in America has since grown to also become an enhancement program helping credit unions to add vehicle loans, increase debit/credit card transactions/balances and provide non-interest income opportunities. Nearly 3,000 credit unions nationwide, representing over 70% of credit union members, now support Invest in America.
“The Invest in America program has captured what it truly means to be an American credit union member,” noted Michael Atchison, Senior Vice President at the Arizona Credit Union League & Affiliates. “During these difficult times, working together and supporting not only each other but also the businesses that provide made in America products and services, helps us all. This program is the solution that unites these businesses and the credit union members.”
Power in Partnerships & Power in Rewards
IIA’s Big Ticket program, as it is known, is focused on driving new membership and increasing vehicle loan volume. The partnership with U.S. based companies such as GM also helps bring credit union members significant savings on new vehicles. Through April 2011, over 400,000 vehicles have been sold generating an estimated $6.4 billion in credit union vehicle loans. In 2009, the Credit Union Journal named the Invest in America program the “Innovation of the Year” citing the number of car sales generated through the program as one reason for the award.
The National Sprint discount program from IIA saves credit union members on wireless services through lower monthly bills, waived fees, and discounts on products and accessories. As part of the unique partnership between Sprint, credit unions receive non-interest income to support their marketing expenses.
Another IIA program, Membership Rewards, is designed to increase credit unions’ card transactions and balances by providing discounts on products and services members use every day. Partners in this program includes well-known brand names such as Allied Van Lines, FTD, DIRECTV, and a new web based mall exclusively for credit union members called Shop America. In January of 2011, CU Growth Solutions purchased CUTS Performance Marketing adding discounts on TurboTax to the mix.
“Our members benefit from the program as does our credit union,” said Anthony M. Carnarvon, President/CEO of Co-op Services Credit Union in Livonia, Mich. “IIA provides a unique opportunity for us to remind our members of our great service and low rates. Combining the GM discount with credit union’s historically low interest rates means that the member saves even more and increases auto loans for the credit union.”
Providing Turnkey Marketing & Member Enhancement
Launching and supporting various programs can be very difficult for credit unions since marketing efforts can be expensive and labor intensive. In order to make marketing the Invest in America program as easy as possible for credit unions, the IIA team has created complete marketing campaigns for all three programs. All of the campaigns have energetic graphics and images combined with compelling copy to help pique current and potential members’ interest in the discounts. These campaigns allow credit unions to proactively market this program in any way that best suits individual credit unions.
“With the addition of Sprint and the income opportunities with that as well as all the offers of the Member Rewards program, we can truly help our members save on almost everything they need,” remarked Pamela Stephens, President/CEO of Security One FCU in Arlington, Texas. “Combined with the marketing materials that are available to online, CU Solutions Group has made this a turnkey member enhancement program.”
Championing the Credit Union Cause & Financial Literacy
The industry as a whole has also benefited from the positive press generated by the program and increased awareness of the value of credit unions and how they differ from other financial institutions. Invest in America is primarily marketed to members through the web site www.lovemycreditunion.org. This website serves a dual purpose by supporting the Invest in America program and serving as an important tool to educate consumers on the benefits of credit union membership and the differences between credit unions and other financial institutions. The lovemycreditunion.org website averages about 26 million visitors annually.
Invest in America is also one of the largest independent sponsors of Biz Kid$ alongside the National Credit Union Foundation. Biz Kid$ is the Emmy Award winning and credit union funded public television series that teaches kids about money management and entrepreneurship.
“IIA’s commitment to the Biz Kid$ program is truly exceptional and deserving of recognition by the National Credit Union Foundation,” writes RoxAnne Kruger, Executive Director of the Washington Credit Union Foundation. “IIA and its staff were quick to realize the value of Biz Kid$—itself a winner of the Herb Wegner Award in 2010—and stepped forward with a multiyear, multi-million dollar commitment when the show was forced into a production hiatus. This was a truly exceptional move, and one that laid the undergirding for Biz Kid$ to transition to the national level.”
About the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards:
The awards are named in honor of the late Credit Union National Association CEO Herb Wegner, whose tireless dedication, innovative ideas and deeds truly revolutionized the ways that credit unions serve their communities. The awards that bear Wegner’s name recognize his spirit of “innovative, creative, risk-taking” leadership. View past award recipients here.
About the National Credit Union Foundation (ncuf.coop):
The National Credit Union Foundation is the US credit union movement’s primary national philanthropic program provider, fundraiser and grant-maker. Through NCUF grants and programs, credit unions provide widespread financial education, create greater access to affordable financial services, and empower more consumers to save, build assets, and own homes.
NCUF is funded primarily by investments in the award-winning Community Investment Fund (CIF) and by generous Supporters led by the Credit Union National Association and CUNA Mutual. All NCUF donors provide support that empowers NCUF and state credit union foundations to make a real impact in the credit union community.
The National Credit Union Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. NCUF continues to earn the Better Business Bureau seal of approval as an “Accredited Charity” for meeting all 20 BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for national charities.