In his now-famous Ted Talk from 2009 titled ‘Start with Why’, Simon Sinek posits that every organization and individual knows what they do, many know how they do it, but the truly inspired leaders and organizations know why they do what they do.
As a credit union leader, do you know your “why”? If you know your “why,” do your members? Have you told them in a truly tangible way what makes your credit union special? In an effort to compete with the behemoths of the financial industry on the “how” and “what,” the core value of a credit union is often lost in the messaging.
Credit unions exist to serve the underserved. And if you are employed in the credit union sector, you know about the phenomenal, shining examples of community impact. Golf tournaments that raise thousands for children’s healthcare, cook-offs that generate significant donations to food shelves, and simple generosity of a donation made with a giant check. These fundraising events, and these giant checks, contribute needed aid in your community and raise awareness within your immediate credit union circle. However they leave out the biggest asset your credit union has, your members. This means that the philanthropic acts go largely unnoticed and unremarked in your broader community. Word of mouth of the immense social impact of the credit union trickles down to few of your current members and almost never reaches the ears of potential members.
So, why toot your own horn? Why broadcast your “why” and shout from the rooftops the good you are doing? Because that is what your members and future members want to know about you.
The average age of a credit union member is 53 years old. A 2020 consumer culture report shows that 73% of this demographic say it is important that the companies which they buy from or do business with align with their beliefs and values. Perhaps more important, 71% of the next generation of members know little or nothing about what a credit union is or does. What they know about are the plethora of fintech solutions at their fingertips, even the ability to open a fully-virtual bank account with an app. They don’t necessarily see the need to go in-branch; they can have all of their needs met digitally. Consumers today have choices, big banks, online banks, staying unbanked, Venmo, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Facebook, Cash App, Square, Snapchat, Betterment, Credit Karma, Simple, Acorn.
How does a credit union stand out in all of this noise? Tell everyone what makes you special. In a recent Gallup Study, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, CEO and Chairman, Jim Clifton says, “The emphasis for this generation has switched from paycheck to purpose.” Credit unions don’t need to shift ‘from paycheck to purpose’ because credit unions already exist for purpose. So tell everyone your ‘why.’
The report continues by showing how millennials are disrupting every corner of society and that to stay relevant, all industries need to be adapting and growing alongside. “Millennials are a highly connected and empathetic group; they are social and caring by nature.” To resonate with this generation, a clothing company must ensure ethical sourcing and labor practices, food companies must care about the impact on the environment, and financial institutions must care about the heart as well as the wallet of those they serve. The trend continues beyond the millennial generation. In a webinar hosted by the financial literacy CUSO, ZOGO, GenZ individuals were asked, “Do credit unions have an inherent advantage in bringing on younger clients given that they’re already focused on social impact?” and “Is social impact something that young people really care about?” One representative answer: 100% The social impact of things definitely affects our generation. I care whether businesses … have ethical practices, and whether I should be continuously supporting them.
Combining the philanthropic nature of credit unions with the growing desire to align values with spend puts credit unions at an advantage to gain. Gain trust, gain visibility and gain market share from the other, faceless financial institutions.
Imagine the difference credit unions can make when you start telling your story, and inviting members to participate in your mission. One example of a credit union leaning into their “why” and sharing it with the community is Envista Credit Union of Kansas. Each month they partner with a local organization and highlight the direct impact in the community. Then, coming together with their members through the EnvistaCares Challenge, they raise money to support the charitable organization, matching dollar for dollar up to $2,500, collaborating with their members for greater impact and direct cause-marketing.
“We are more than a financial institution, we are the community. At Envista, we know that it is not just charitable to give back, it is our responsibility to participate in the work of providing quality resources, services and opportunities for our members and staff.” – Tara Dimick, Chief Business Development Officer
That is the credit union “why.”
To learn more about EnvistaCares, Tara Dimick, chief business development officer of Envista will join NetGiver on our brand new podcast launching in April, Imagine the Difference.