• Advisory councils give your members a voice.
• Online communication with councils helps CUs stay in touch with members and get instant feedback.
• Board focus: Define your council’s scope, purpose, and expectations before you recruit participants.
Ben Allen, 22, of Crosby, Minn., just might have credit unions in his DNA. His parents are members of two credit unions, and when Allen was 19, he joined the credit union his grandparents belonged to—Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union in Baxter, Minn.
Soon after becoming a member, Allen got even more involved at Mid-Minnesota Federal by volunteering to serve on the Teen Advisory Council. “I like the credit union, and I like being able to communicate more with the credit union,” he says.
Victor Sanchez is highly active in the Hispanic community in Battle Creek, Mich. That’s why United Educational Credit Union asked him to join its Hispanic Advisory Council. “Even though I’m busy and I need another meeting to go to like I need a hole in the head, this is important,” Sanchez says. “I believe in credit unions. Every time I go to council meetings, I see a lot of member involvement. To me, that’s worthwhile.”
Allen’s and Sanchez’s credit unions are among those discovering the value of member advisory councils. These groups can act as sounding boards and referral networks to hone new product offerings and to find new members, employees, and directors.
Councils vary in purpose, composition, and types of activities. But credit unions using this approach have learned there’s one overarching guideline to follow when creating a council: Think not only about what your credit union hopes to gain, but also about how your members can benefit from the council.