Beyond Financial Education - Examining the ROI of other Programs

I hope the New Year is off to the best of beginnings for you! The New Year has come in like a blizzard up here in the Northwest- or at least 6 inches of snow that has stuck around for weeks and slowed our cities to a crawl. Yes, I know… probably not noteworthy in many parts of the country, but a serious ordeal up here.

While on the verge of cabin fever, I have had plenty of time to contemplate my ROI tracking system and how it can be useful for programs beyond financial education. Here are a few examples of other things we plan to use it for, and some other ideas you can consider, as well.

Second Chance Accounts: Later this year, I hope to tackle updates to our second chance account offerings. I feel these are a critical component to helping the under-banked and unbanked members of our community live more financially stable, successful lives. We currently offer a pretty bare-bones account, but don’t have much information on the members who use them. Sure, we know about the members who chronically overdraft and abuse these accounts, whose membership must be terminated. But what about the others? What about the ones who someday move beyond our Second Chance Accounts, and onto a deeper membership level? How would continued investment into these programs and these members strengthen our communities and our credit unions?

Business Development: My credit union has had a community charter since the mid-70’s, and doesn’t engage much in traditional “business development”. But I know a recurring theme among credit unions that do is the uncertainty that their efforts are paying off, or confusion between which businesses and employee groups are worth the time. By applying account codes to each SEG, you will be able to see which groups are engaged and profitable. Might be time to shift your focus from serving “all of them” to serving the ones who demonstrate a good return, eh?

Community Outreach: The most successful story I’ve heard about community outreach turning into appreciable profit was from Numerica Credit Union (headquartered in Spokane, WA). There, they have aligned their community outreach and business development efforts, seeking to extend membership to employees and others affiliated with various nonprofits, as well as picking up the nonprofit business accounts. You could take this a step further – even tracking accounts opened because of your presence at various events. How do you know where it pays to spend your money, if you aren’t looking at the data? (I should pause here and say that sometimes the brand equity gained by community outreach may be more significant to the bottom line than actual accounts…developing goals that speak to both the profitability and the marketability of your credit union is likely the best strategy here).

Onboarding Campaigns: Raise your hand if you love CUDL! Now raise your hand if you love how loyal CUDL members are! Most of us realize that while CUDL can be a great source for new loans, new members, and seamless service to existing members, we also realize that newly acquired CUDL members rarely become anything else. A targeted onboarding campaign can help to change this – and doesn’t need to stop at CUDL members. The bad news? Onboarding campaigns are notoriously unproductive, requiring you to overcome a great deal of friction to actually become the PFI for a prospective member. The good news? By tracking your efforts, you can see what’s working and what’s not, and steer towards greater success.

For most of us, it’s quite simple to get ROI analysis for various products and services, yet efforts such as the ones mentioned above often go overlooked and underappreciated. I wouldn’t say this is an exhaustive list of what you can – or should – use a tracking system for; turn your team loose, ask the big questions, and really identify what you want to know. It’s far better to have more data than necessary, then to realize you are missing a critical answer you wish you had. Once you are asking the right questions, it becomes much easier to find the right answers.