Imagine you’re sitting in a KFC restaurant. You’ve just ordered your favorite rendition of finger-lickin’ good fried chicken. And, of course, what would that chicken be without a nostalgia-riddled side of mashed potatoes and – duh – gravy? As you’re getting ready to dig in, a woman comes up to you and asks, “Do you know what a credit union is”?
Cue record scratch. What? You think to yourself, why am I being asked this? But then again, before you became a part of the credit union movement – before you began working as an employee of a credit union organization – did you actually know what a credit union was or how it worked?
The answer is probably no. I can confidently say that the true meaning and purpose of credit unions is less well-known than what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast this morning. It’s sad, but also true, and it blows my mind because our movement is incredible. What we stand for, our guiding principles and our penchant for cooperation among the masses is incredible.
So, when I tell you that I was that random lady walking around a KFC asking random people about their knowledge of credit unions, it probably isn’t much of a surprise. And, yes, that is absolutely a true story.
What led me down that path, you wonder? Well, I had just visited with a credit union to discuss a marketing project. After spending time with the manager, I was curious to know if people in the community had heard of or were part of said credit union. And when I asked the question, I was shocked at the number of people who either had no real concept of what a credit union was or simply thought that a credit union was the same thing as a bank.
The realization dawned on me – credit unions are not the best at promoting themselves. Our movement isn’t always recognized because we don’t necessarily take the time to shout our accomplishments from the rooftops. Instead, we’re actively working to help families get first home loans or volunteering at food banks, among so many other things. And while that is great, we should be tooting our own horns, because the work we do is important – not just to our members, but to our local and worldwide communities as a whole.
It was also in that moment that I decided to be a cheerleader for credit unions, to find ways to support this movement that I feel so passionate about. I felt like, as someone who’s been part of this movement for most of my life now, I was being driven to help credit unions help themselves, to promote the good we do and the possibilities we can offer. The challenge presented itself, and I wholeheartedly accepted!
Helping Credit Unions Spread the Word
The biggest obstacle of promoting the credit union movement is, well, getting credit unions to participate. I realize it takes time and resources and effort – things which many credit unions don’t have extras of – but the payoff is what’s important. For these reasons, Vizo Financial has created several videos that make it easy for institutions to share with their employees, members, fellow credit unions and communities.
One is our Difference Makers video series, which highlights community involvement initiatives by credit unions all across the country. It’s a way for all of us to share in our commitment to the “people helping people” philosophy and our principle of concern for community. And when fellow CUs can see the good we do as a collective, the movement becomes even more empowered. If you haven’t watched it yet, please check it out on our Corporate Video Series page. I promise, it’s a good place to find an even deeper appreciation of the good we, as credit unions, do for others!
We also have videos that talk about all aspects of credit unions – from fraud and compound interest to a comparison of banks and credit unions. These are great tools to spread the word about credit unions and the financial services we offer to your members in a way that is engaging and entertaining. Who doesn’t like videos, after all? And they are so easy to place on your website, social media or wherever you’d like to make sure they see it…all without work on your credit union’s part. Simply purchase the videos and you’re well on your way to promoting the credit union movement! You can get more details about these videos by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outside of Vizo Financial, #ilovemycreditunion Day has been a huge hit for the past couple years, and its sole focus is to put credit unions in the spotlight. It’s accomplished through an annual social media campaign that unites credit unions and gives us the opportunity to tell the world who we are and what we’re all about. Just take a look at the #ilovemycreditunion hashtag from this year – you could spend hours scrolling through the many stories credit unions and their supporters have shared. It’s certainly something to celebrate, which brings me to my next point…
Celebrate Any Chance You Get
While we aren’t the best at promoting our movement, credit unions sure are good at celebrating. The prime example is International Credit Union (ICU) Day, which is held on the third Thursday of October each year. Started in 1948, this special day is dedicated to celebrating our rich history, collective bonds, dedication and pride in our cooperative principles and communities.
I’m especially excited for this year’s theme, “Empower your financial future with a credit union.” Not only does it bring credit unions to the forefront of people’s minds, but it also reinforces the fact that we are a financial superpower, standing right up there with the likes of banks and maybe even more so by giving members the power to control their financial futures.
No matter what you do to partake in #ICUDay – whether it’s giving away treats or offering special financial education opportunities to members, taking to social media or making a donation to a local charity – the goal is to bring awareness to credit unions and all that we do. So, join in the celebrations however you see fit, but make sure to tell your members and do everything you can to get them involved. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, so the more your members are immersed in your ICU Day (and everyday) celebration, the more likely they are to tell others about our movement.
Put Your Credit Union in the Community
Let’s be honest…you don’t need something set in stone like ICU Day to bring awareness to your institution. You can celebrate credit unions and our mission anytime by getting out there in the community and making yourself known.
At Vizo Financial, we volunteer at local high school financial reality fairs, which puts our movement in the face of students and young adults. We raise money and lend a helping hand at charities all throughout our areas of membership. In fact, we have our annual Day of Service coming up in just a couple weeks on October 10.
Day of Service allows our staff to come together and donate time to bettering our communities. We’re partnering with organizations that help feed the hungry, provide hospice care, treat sick and injured children, give disabled veterans a purpose, rebuild communities and more to offer small acts of kindness that make a difference in the lives of those in our local areas. It’s a small thing that makes a big impact – but it’s something people don’t forget. And when they remember Vizo Financial, they’ll remember credit unions.
Make a Name for Our Movement
All of these things are ways to promote the credit union movement. It may seem overwhelming to think about, but making a name for our movement is so important to fulfilling our mission. Small steps can lead to big outcomes for credit unions.
Our passion for serving others is something everyone should know about. So, whether you’re taking to social media to tell the world about our movement or you go into your favorite fast food joint and ask everyone you see what they know about credit unions, I salute you. I’ve accepted the challenge of promoting credit unions – will you?