Friday, August 31, 2007

Get the word out

Hi all!
My name is Courtney Cantwell and I am an Instructional Designer at the Credit Union National Association. My job at CUNA is to work with writers, content experts and web designers to create online, interactive courses for credit union staff. Throughout my tenure at CUNA I have had many wonderful opportunities to work at national conferences and events.

This winter I will be co-moderating CUNA's 2007 YES Summit in Austin, Texas. I am thrilled about this opportunity because I finally get to meet folks from the Gen X/Gen Y demographic who know the history of the credit union movement and why cooperatives are so important.

CUNA is based in Madison, WI which is a fairly liberal college-based town. Credit unions are very prevalent here but even some of my friends didn't know the difference between a cu and a bank until I explained it to them. It is my job to explain the merits of belonging to a credit union to those who don't know. There are many clueless people out there. They don't realize that they are throwing money away- they are paying higher fees for withdrawing money from ATMs, higher rates on loans and they are fattening some big CEOs' wallets by belonging to banks.

We need to get the message out! We need to steer our friends, family and acquaintances in the direction of the nearest credit union. With credit unions declining so rapidly, it is up to us- to the younger generations- to save the movement. We need to come up with alternative methods for reaching new members, and we need to start reaching them at an early age.

I became a member of UW Credit Union when I was 16. I wanted a checking account and my mom took me to the credit union (she also happened to worked in the cu industry). I have never left UW and wouldn't consider doing so for a number of reasons:
1) their online web branch (I check my account daily),
2) the low rates they offer on loans,
3) the friendliness of the staff and
4) the accessibility of ATMs throughout town.
They also took a chance on my fiance and I and helped us purchase our first home.

The key to reaching new members is to find out what is important to them, to figure out a way to accomodate their needs and then to get the message out that their local credit union has solutions that are in their best interests. Let's do our part to get the word out.


1 comment:

Trey Reeme said...

You're absolutely right, Courtney - there's a chronic misunderstanding of what a credit union is among all demographics - particularly Gen Xers and Millennials.

I'd like to see a solid national campaign to raise awareness about credit unions - our structure is certainly appealing... that is, when folks understand what we're about.