How A Do-Good Campaign Attracted Young Members

Warren FCU wanted to make its way into the hearts and minds of college-town Laramie, WY. A socially conscious campaign proved to be the way.

When Warren Federal Credit Union ($515.6M, Cheyenne, WY) faced the challenge of how to drive business to a quirky, 5-year-old branch in a college town that likes its live-person service as much as its apps, the credit union found its solution in its Do Gooders Unite marketing campaign. The campaign eschewed media buys in favor of social media and grass-roots outreach that appealed to the social consciousness and transparency now associated with Gen Y and millennials.

And through Do Gooders Unite, Warren FCU gained 200 new members, lots of new friends, and the opportunity to give $10,000 to aid in the revival of downtown Laramie, WY.


data as of 12.31.14

  • HQ: Cheyenne, WY
  • ASSETS: $515.6M
  • MEMBERS: 49,619
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 9.94%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 20.99%
  • ROA: 1.27%

The Inspiration

Steve Salazar, chief marketing officer for Warren, says he got the idea for Do Gooders Unite after hearing about Umpqua Bank’s work with recession-hit residents in its Oregon hometown.

Warren FCU had opened a branch in a mini-mall close to the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie about five years ago. The average Laramie resident is 26.8 years old and the average household income is $20,000 less than the state average. The community is both tight-knit and transient, with 13,000 college students in the mix.

I realized we should not be marketing on rates alone, Salazar says. We could be true to our key principle as a people helping people’ credit union and turn our marketing efforts toward helping those we serve in Laramie.

The credit union worked with a couple of outside agencies on the creative elements and launched Do Gooders Unite in July with three goals: Drive new growth and awareness of its Laramie branch; position Warren as an investor in the Laramie community; and empower new and existing members to live the pay-it-forward spirit.

The Nuts And Bolts

If 200 new members signed up for checking accounts, the campaign promised to donate $10,000 to the Laramie Main Street Alliance plus $100 to each of those new accounts. No strings attached.

They can spend it anyway they want, Salazar says. We’re not keeping their money hostage for three months or anything like that.

Campaign elements included in-person community outreach such as face painting booths at the Laramie farmers market and downtown festival as well as a website, Facebook presence, Twitter hashtag #dogoodarmy,and a YouTube video. Also included was a Superhero theme that included elements such as You’re the Hero Laramie Has Been Waiting For and Laramie is Counting On You To Join The Do Good Army.

Mindy Peep, Warren FCU marketing communication manager, helps a young festival-goer channel her inner superhero during Laramie Jubilee Days.
Courtesy of Warren FCU.

Warren FCU used this video to promote its Do-Gooders Unite campaign.

Next: Results And Next Steps

The Results

The 200th member joined the Do Good Army in late September, and the credit union presented a $10,000 check to the Laramie Main Street Alliance on Oct. 18.

Branch transaction traffic, meanwhile, is up by a third from a year ago. More than half of the new members are actively using their checking accounts and have retained balances higher than $100.

And of course, some paid their $100 forward.

We trusted our members to do something good with that money, Salazar says.

According to Mindy Peep, Warren FCU’s marketing communication manager, one member stopped a credit union staffer in a grocery store to share his excitement about spending his money on groceries for others. Others donated to public radio and the local humane society.

Peep, 30, says she’s not surprised.

My generation really needs full transparency to gain its trust, especially when it comes to a brand, she says. In the past it was all about saving money, but now when we have extra money, we want to do things that are good and that make a difference.

In the past it was all about saving money, but now when we have extra money, we want to do things that are good and that make a difference.

Mike Martin, Warren’s chief lending officer, isn’t surprised either.

I’m Gen X, and I have daughters who are millennials, he says. When this generation thinks of any business, especially financial services, they need to see more than just an institution. They need to see someone who has the same interests as they do.

The Aftermath

Warren now plans to take the campaign to other communities, including hometown Cheyenne, WY, and Fort Collins, CO. Each market will have its own tailored campaign that will benefit the Warren FCU Foundation. Member donations plus matching funds from the credit union have already raised $110,000 for organizations and individuals in need since the foundation launched in 2013.

Altogether, this makes for a sustainable strategy for credit unions converting their image to cool, Peep says.

They’re no longer just something for your grandparents, the credit union communicator says. They’re a new, offbeat thing that appeals to the ideals of Gen Y. Something they should be a part of. It’s a new trend.

October 23, 2014

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