How Credit Unions Can Prove Themselves

A review of practices that show how and why credit unions are boosting their visibility and viability.

All consumer banks and credit unions offer savings accounts. They all offer checking. They’ll lend you money. You pay it back.

So what makes a credit union different? Can you explain it to your members and potential members? Do you?

According to a Filene Research Institute report, credit unions need to better define, measure, and publicize that difference if they want to be more than just a commodity in a fast-changing financial marketplace. Credit unions talk about making a meaningful impact in their communities but do a poor job of showing how, the Filene report says. (Read more in Credit Unions: Prove Thyself!).

If this is an area in which you want to improve in 2015, check out these credit union vetted-and-verified practices of measuring and sharing the benefits of credit union membership.

ROM:Callahan invented the Return of the Member metric nearly 20 years ago to help a credit union CEO understand that net income decreased one year because the institution returned profits to members instead of shareholders.

Since then, ROM has been helping credit unions quantify member value by combining savings, lending, and other product usage to capture a holistic view of a member’s relationship with the credit union. Read how ROM works.

Many credit unions excel at posting strong ROM numbers year after year, and this ROM Callahan Collection shows just how powerful a tool it can be. The three small credit unions profiled claim member service is their core strategic advantage. Its a statement many credit unions make, but Des Moines Police Officers Credit Union, Jack Daniel Employees Credit Union, and Sunset Science Park FCU have the numbers to back it up.

The Power of Storytelling: Numbers don’t lie, but that’s not enough. Here, Wright-Patt Credit Union lays out its promotional plan for 2015, while Suncoast Credit Union shares how to turn a rebrand into a re-statement.

Mouth-to-Mouth: One of the nation’s largest credit unions relies on word-of-mouth to spread the word about its products and service to the community. Another pays members for new member referrals.

Flat Social:Educators Credit Union customized the Flat Stanley idea and staged some interesting Facebook campaigns to engage its members in ways beyond transactional.

Slow Money: Investing in the community for the long term and it shall invest in you. That’s the Slow Money concept. Read how this big California credit union has built one of the largest average relationship metrics around by focusing on the benefits of lifelong membership. And here’s how three credit unions publicly live their values through local investments. And how this New Mexico institution works with a major university and other local stakeholders to sow the seeds of growth by creating a new culture of innovation.

Learning And Saving: A savings contest that reaped deposits and resulted in nearly 10,000 hours of in-person financial recognition also sharply boosted name recognition for this Ohio credit union. Educators and Seven Seventeen credit unions share how they built ROM by saving members millions in interest with re-fis in troubled times.

Saving Money And Homes: One of the most gut-level ways credit unions help their members and their communities is restructuring troubled debt, including modifying mortgages. In addition to this pre-GAC roundup on that reality, here’s a graphic look at just how much.

Patronage Payoffs: Paying dividends pays off in dividends, such as member growth. This look at that shows just how much sharing the profits with the credit union’s real owners can add a bottom-line boost to sharing the credit union difference.

How Will You Make A Difference In 2015?

Take this two-minute survey and tell Callahan where you see opportunity and challenges in your market for the year ahead.


January 19, 2015

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