Minnesota Credit Unions Modify Annual Meetings to Meet Members’ Changing Needs

ST. PAUL, HOYT LAKES, and DULUTH, MN (August 29, 2013) — As the credit union industry evolves and places a heavy emphasis on attracting the next generation of borrowers and savers, many credit unions are utilizing an old channel in a new way to position themselves as creative, contemporary financial institutions.

Annual Meetings.

According to the Federal Credit Union Act, every credit union’s bylaws require an annual meeting. But just because they’re required by law and Minnesota credit unions have been holding annual meetings for 80+ years doesn’t mean it has to be a conventional event.

The following three Minnesota credit unions have strategically modified their annual meetings to meet the changing needs of their membership.

  • Among the most radical of changes is SPIRE Federal Credit Union. This

$596 million credit union in the Twin Cities welcomed a record-setting number of members – nearly 2,000 in total – to its Annual Meeting & Member Appreciation Day in February 2013, its third year of coordinating the annual event with a unique twist. The attendance represents a 40 percent jump from 2012, and a 1300% increase from 2009.

So what’s the draw? An inspirational keynote speaker, a guaranteed one-hour time limit, and cash.

SPIRE President & CEO Dan Stoltz leads the hour-long meetings, providing broad education about SPIRE, the credit union difference, and discussing economic trends. SPIRE’s 2013 meeting also incorporated a motivational keynote from Devon Harris, former Jamaican Bobsled Team member.

As for the cash, SPIRE is the first credit union in the country to incentivize annual meeting attendees. According to SPIRE, it’s the credit union’s “strong overall financial picture” that has allowed them to provide a $25 cash payment to all attendees.

“We had a record year – record new members, record checking accounts,” President & CEO Dan Stoltz said in a press release from the credit union. “We wanted to find a new way to share our message and to give back to our members, providing them with an experience that’s both informational and inspirational.”

  • With declining attendance at its traditional annual meeting, NorthRidge Community Credit Union decided it was time for a change. The $35 million institution made its first move toward a format change a few years ago, attempting barbeque-style annual meetings at the city park pavilion. However, with continued low attendance, NRCCU moved ahead with a complete overhaul in 2013.

With credit union offices in three cities across north central Minnesota’s “Iron Range,” NorthRidge converted its annual meeting to a weeklong celebration, involving all branches and staff in drawings, decorations and member education. NRCCU’s staff primarily focused on educating members – reminding them that they’re owners of the institution, and therefore eligible to help direct the future of the credit union by serving on the board and supervisory committees.

“We want to make sure that our members know what it means to be a part of the credit union – especially our young members,” said Winnie Koivisto, NVCCU VP of Accounting & Finance. “We received a lot of really good comments from our members, and hopefully in the next year we’ll get some new people interested in being involved with the credit union.”

NorthRidge also made its annual report available to all members who visited during the week, which provided increased exposure, and rounded out their celebration with an evening business meeting.

“Overall, we were able to reach a lot more people,” Koivisto said, as NRCCU continues to build on this year’s success at next year’s event.

  • At Minnesota Power Employees Credit Union in Duluth, it’s the little things that make the difference. MPECU has created a hybrid between the traditional and modern annual meeting formats, infusing its event with formality, practicality and innovation.

To draw a crowd for its annual meeting, the $85 million credit union goes the extra mile to remind members that they are the owners of the institution, mailing personalized invitations. To maximize effectiveness, MPECU draws attendees together for a social hour prior to the meeting, conducts all official credit union business in under a half hour, and wraps its annual event with a formal dinner.

MPECU also incorporated an innovative incentive to attract young adults to its event: child care. Staff hires two of its members who are teachers to provide kids’ activities and games, offered as a service to parents with young children. Once the business meeting concludes, they join their parents for dinner with a special a kids’ meal and gift bag as a “thank you” for their participation.

“Even though the meeting is in February and we have a lot of snow birds out of town for the winter, we really have a good attendance,” said Nancy Hutchinson, MPECU Vice President of Marketing. “It’s great to see the young families that participate – they are the future of the credit union.”

The Minnesota Credit Union Network is an organization representing the state’s 133 not-for-profit cooperative credit unions serving more than 1.5 million member-owners in Minnesota. For more information, visit

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