Monday, December 31, 2007

'Tis the Season for Resolutions

What an adventure it was getting into the office this morning. Its snowing again, and somehow I missed that we're getting another foot today. I live on a little side street, so we didn't get plowed out before I left. Within the 200 yards to the main road I managed to get myself stuck 3 different times, requiring several minutes of shoveling to free myself from my icy prison.

It's New Years Eve! hopefully you'll all be out enjoying the merriment tonight. I've finally come up with a few resolutions of my own (I'm such a procrastinator) that might also give you a few ideas for your own blog or credit union.

5) Change the way we look at social responsibility. As I mentioned in this post, I feel like credit unions (especially large institutions such as MSCU) have seriously lost touch with the communities they serve. I want to see the focus of our social responsibility program move away from a single lump dollar amount. If we really want the public to see the effort and get involved, we need to be out in public being involved.

4) Participate on more social networks. There are many out there and new ones are springing up as we speak. To be honest I've never been the Myspace type, but it (and other sites like LinkedIn, Bebo, tagworld...etc.) offer a much needed change in the way people interact. I think it is especially important for CU's (or more preferably, a person from your cu) to get into these networks and allow people to interact with an institution that is seen as unchangeable by most people in the public. Put a face, or at least a voice, in front of your institution that your members (and hopefully a few non-members) can identify with.

3)Educate people on the difference between Bank and Credit Union. Behind the scenes, your credit union is a completely different animal than the Bank of America down the street, But can your members see that difference? Probably not. Do something to show that you're different. Whether its focusing your advertising on the non-profit, local, and personal involvement that you offer or starting an online community, do something to show what makes you different. Just make sure you're actually offering that personal feeling before you make it the focus of your advertising efforts.

2)Refocus on what the credit union movement actually is. When I see a credit union, I see a co-op of members who own their financial institution and have a unique opportunity to influence what happens to the money they put there. Most people see a bank with a funny name. People aren't aware of the nature of credit unions, and unfortunately there are some credit unions that have lost touch with the message as well. We need to rededicate ourselves to serving our communities financially, educationally, and as a source for volunteer efforts around our local areas.

1)Have fun with it. The best way to get people involved is to make something that would usually be a chore into something interesting and fun. Start a blog, organize a group outside the walls of your credit union, start a contest...anything that can engage your membership in something that interests them outside of deposits, loans, and investment accounts. It's important that YOU have fun with it as well, if you don't seem interested, nobody else will.

So, there you have it. My short list of things I hope will change the face of credit unions in the coming year. Remember, the only way for there to be change in the credit union movement is for you to change it. Don't wait for the CU president to suggest it, go in and present your opinion. Without a new point of view, things will keep going the way they are, and if you wait too long, it might be too late.

I hope you all have an exciting, happy, and safe new year.

Oh, and an obligatory "don't drink and drive"!

2 comments:

Ginny Brady said...

Andy, your list is like a "fresh coat of paint" for credit unions. Credit Unions aren't just banks - we're service organizations owned by members, for the benefit of members. Most people in the US are eligible for membership in credit unions. One resolution I would add is "Spread the excitement". Tell friends, family, coworkers, neighbors - your whole community how membership in a particular credit union benefits both individual members and the community as a whole.

Andy said...

Ginny,

Thanks for that addition. The CU movement should be something to get excited about! To be honest I was a bit reluctant to try and convince the people around me to join a CU. I always felt like I was underhandedly marketing to them. I finally realized that there is more to a credit union than accounts. Its a lot easier (and more rewarding) to convince people to be excited for a cause than it is to get them excited over a financial institution. Since then, I've been telling everyone I can.