Happy International CU Day

Twelve Ways to Observe the International Year of Co-ops

‘Cooperative enterprises build a better world.’

October 20, 2011

The United Nations’ 2012 International Year of Cooperatives is only days away. This year-long observance promises a wealth of opportunities for credit unions delivered on a silver platter.

All we have to do is capitalize on them, whether they’re opportunities to herald our cooperative brand distinction in the marketplace, gain increased exposure through the media, or, due to a heightened understanding of what credit unions are, grow our membership to levels never seen before.

I’ve developed 12 ideas to help credit unions observe the International Year of Cooperatives. They not only present opportunities to teach and inform but to promote your credit union/cooperative brand as well.

Hopefully, one of these ideas can find a home at your shop:

1. Invite local cooperatives to set up an information table in your lobby.

2. Include coupons to local co-ops in your statement mailings.

3. Post promotional videos, photos, or call-out boxes on your website providing information about the cooperative business model.

4. Invite local cooperators to write a column for your member newsletter, discussing cooperative values and principles.

5. Join with local cooperators to give talks and make presentations about cooperatives within the local community (i.e.: Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, schools, retirement homes, libraries, etc.).

6. Join with local cooperators to sponsor a kiosk at the mall, airport, or library to educate consumers about cooperatives.

7. Organize a neighborhood volunteer cleanup and repair taskforce involving other local cooperators. The mission is to improve the homes of the elderly and less fortunate to give back to the community. Solicit a local Ace Hardware store [acehardware.com] (a retailer-owned cooperative) to provide tools and assist in public relations and sponsorship generation.

8. Hold a monthly drawing among your members. The winning name is awarded a membership in a local food co-op.

9. Earmark a sum of money for loans reserved for promoting green initiatives or social justice-related services within the community. Promote the availability of these funds through the local media.

10. Present a “Cooperator Award” to someone in the community who embodies values. You may invite members to vote for the candidate of their choice. Hold an awards dinner or reception with proceeds going to the Children’s Miracle Network or the local Red Cross.

11. Launch your own Credit Union Angel program. These angels are volunteers who look in on elderly people, military families, and others to make sure their needs are being met.

12. Come up with your own idea and tell us about it. This way we’ll all benefit.

WALT LASKOS serves as principal of The Laskos Group, a Temecula, Calif.-based provider of branding, communications, and public relations services. He previously served as public relations director for the former Western Corporate Federal Credit Union, where he conceived Operation Best Wishes, an annual campaign allowing military families to record and send video-based webcast greetings to military personnel deployed overseas. Laskos also writes a blog, Laskos on Credit Unions.