As credit unions compete in the ever-growing field of financial services, they mustn’t lose sight of what sets them apart, and it’s not rates, fees, or mobile banking. Credit unions are cooperatives that, by definition, represent the interests of members united to serve a common purpose. In the case of credit unions, this purpose involves improving the lives of members, communities, and employees. Purpose is what sets credit unions apart.
Research from Harvard Business school and PR and marketing firm Edelman shows purpose-driven organizations attract employees as well as consumers. Credit unions across the country are leading with purpose to positively impact the lives of their members, communities, and employees — here are three stories to serve as inspiration for all.
This is one of three spotlights on credit union impact. Read more about community impact and employee impact.
Small Dollar. Big Difference.
Nusenda Credit Union ($3.7B, Albuquerque, NM) works with community partners to identify and support borrowers shut out of traditional lending. For more than a decade, the cooperative has provided financing to small entrepreneurs and created a community impact that extends well beyond its own bottom line.
“We’ve funded restaurants and food services, childcare, jewelry and other artisan production, a barbershop, and much more,” says Amy Nigrelli, Nusenda’s chief marketing officer.
Nusenda began making microloans in 2010. In 2018, it formalized a program and started working with community partners to identify small entrepreneurs. Today, these borrowers are posting a solid payback record while creating jobs and opportunity in their communities.
Read more in “Small Loans Make A Big Impact In New Mexico.”
An Answer To A Call For Help
Affinity Federal Credit Union ($3.7B, Basking Ridge, NJ) has had an outbound calling team for more than a decade, but the now five-person team has taken several forms during that time.
The team, which is housed within the contact center, was a transaction hub before evolving into a digital branch. In that form, employees strived to have in-depth interactions with members, onboarding them to the credit union and deepening the new relationship.
During the pandemic, the outbound calling team at Affinity FCU took on financial wellbeing among at-risk members. The team contacts members who report financial stress on Affinity FCU’s bi-weekly pulse surveys, seeking out suffering members to help solve their financial problems.
Read more in “A Better Life For Members Is A Phone Call Away.”
Better Jobs. Better Lives.
Lake Charles, LA, is home to several petrochemical plants and oil refineries. In addition to gaming, the southwestern Louisiana city’s economy is driven by industry and manufacturing — which offers local residents some of the area’s best-paying jobs, some starting at six figures.
But according to Chad Miller, CEO of Southwest Louisiana Credit Union ($156.1M, Lake Charles, LA), the barrier for entry into these fields can be high. Operator and technician jobs often require trade school degrees, which can take anywhere from eight weeks of intensive study to two years of traditional study. Many would-be job seekers have families or existing student debt, making it difficult to walk away from a current job and assume additional education costs.
“I don’t know a lot of people who can afford to stop working for eight weeks,” Miller says. “There are a number of good-paying jobs out there, but folks are not going to school or are patching together lost income by taking on credit card debt.”
To tear down financial barriers and clear an easier path to technical degrees and certifications, SLCU offers a tuition loan program as well as support for childcare and housing.
Read more in “Small-Dollar Loans Boast Big Career Potential.”
Want more stories of credit union impact? CreditUnions.com has them! Click here to see a selection of stories that highlight strategies, initiatives, products, and services of credit unions making a positive impact for the members and communities they serve.