Tell The Story, Be The Advocate!

My heart dropped when I read this headline:
Membership declines at 54% of nation’s credit unions in 2nd quarter

It got me thinking about important questions we should all be asking ourselves: “What is our strategic plan for growing membership?” “Are we looking at our product suite and making a few changes?” “Do we have campaigns to support our current products?” 

But these questions are just the start. We must not forget about one of the biggest pieces to the membership puzzle – Advocacy!

In its purest form, advocacy is telling your story! As credit union employees, we must continue spreading the word about the Credit Union Movement and what it is. Take a moment to think, how many people in your community – or among your own Members – still do not fully understand what a credit union does?

That’s why it’s always important to tell your story. Talk about how you helped a Member save $200 a month on their mortgage when no other financial institution would even look past their credit report. Talk about how that $200 paid for their gas monthly. But don’t stop there! Since they had gas money for roundtrips to work and home, they were able to put their children in an after school program which had mentors and tutors.

We need to talk about the $100 loans we are giving when no one else will – unless it’s at an outrageous 379% APR! We are in low to moderate income areas looking to assist and teach financial literacy at the same time. We are not there just to grow the bottom line; we are there to grow the community – one Member and one family at a time.

We are in the business of people helping people!

Every day when you pull up one of the newsletters in our industry, the movement is questioned by banks. We need to be the voice to our community and its leaders by focusing our message on the life-changing decisions that happen daily at the local credit union. How involved are you in the community, other cooperatives, charities, schools or local government? These are great places to be an advocate of the movement.

United Federal Credit Union is heavily involved in the communities we serve. A belief we have in the Arkansas market is that you shouldn’t simply join multiple organizations to gain traction, but rather you should be involved in the ones you do join. As far as the groups you decide to be active in, make sure they mean something to you.

President of the Chamber, Treasurer of the First Tee, Trails and Greenways committee member, City Leadership program member, Chamber Ambassador, Team Captain for United Way, mentor at University of Arkansas-Fort Smith are just a few other responsibilities our team has in this market. We talk to everyone from government officials, school administrators, and chamber leaders to spread the word about credit unions.

Are we advocating? Absolutely!

Does 8.45% membership and 21.4% loan growth through the end of August 2014 sound exciting? That’s what having the right products, marketing and Advocacy can do for you! It should come as no surprise that our Member satisfaction scores are well above the industry standard as well. 

Tell your story, get involved in your community and always advocate for the Credit Union Movement of People Helping People.   

“Teamwork divides the task but doubles the success!”

On a more personal note, I want to thank James Marshall, Chris Fraenza, Chad Helminak, Andy Janning and Meghann Dawson for hosting the Crash the GAC in 2014. This opened my eyes to Advocacy!

Also, a BIG thank you to Jim Phelps, Vice President of Advocacy at the Cornerstone Credit Union League! You have really shown what it means to advocate on all levels.

Inspirational Leadership, Advocacy and Mentorship

Follow me on Twitter: @playingwisely

Noel Sanger