Planning for your financial future can be scary. For one-third of Americans, it’s just something that’s avoided all together. That’s a truly frightening reality. But it’s one that credit unions can help improve if, and only if, Americans understand how they can benefit from credit union membership.
That’s what the Awareness initiative, through the Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union® campaign, is aiming to achieve by dispelling myths consumers have about credit unions and instilling a sense of opportunity for their financial future. It’s consumer-facing and uses bold, direct digital messaging to invite Americans to open their eyes to the benefits of a credit union.
The initiative is an industry-wide, and ultimately national effort but the building blocks are regional. True to its design, it demands commitment from CUNA, leagues and credit unions to be successful. League partnership has been particularly important, as they understand their regional needs most.
“I see the Awareness initiative as a way for credit unions to break down the barriers of anxiety that consumers have over their financial planning,” said Troy Stang, president/CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) that represents Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. “We have an opportunity to position credit unions as the brilliant choice that will help consumers get to a more fantastic future faster, as the campaign says.”
NWCUA is a great example of League leadership. They have taken on the challenge of building consideration with enthusiasm and thoughtfulness, while also asking tough questions and pushing the program to be more strategic.
“We love that this is an initiative rooted in strong market research,” added Danielle Sittu, NWCUA senior vice president for Marketing & Communications. “We’ve been supportive of this program since the very beginning, but we’ve also asked a lot of questions and taken the time to assess how it will work best in our region. Our members have truly engaged, and we hope we’re able to launch in our three states soon.”
NWCUA is actively fundraising among its members as it plans its launch date.
“We’ve had tremendous support from our credit unions. This initiative is resonating, and I think increasingly people are seeing the huge potential it holds,” remarked Stang. “I would encourage Leagues to ask questions, get information, and participate. Ultimately, we all have to ask ourselves, if we don’t do this, who will?”
Credit unions’ national market share has held steady at 7% over the last two decades. But the same can’t be said for the future – especially with the rise of FinTech and consolidation of power among big banks.
“Leagues have to be active. Here in the Northwest, we have some of the highest credit union membership across the country, but people here are also very transient. I work for Idaho, Oregon, and Washington credit unions, but I also care about credit unions in California, Oklahoma, Texas, and beyond,” said Stang. “This is a cooperative industry, and we have to work together to raise consumer consideration. I encourage all credit unions to lean in and participate in this very worthwhile initiative.”
Consumers are already being told to open their eyes to a credit union in Minnesota, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Many regions like NWCUA are working hard to get ready to launch soon. But it’s important to remember this is a years-long effort, and there’s still time to get on board.
Get involved! If you want to learn more about becoming a contributor, contact CUNA at firstname.lastname@example.org.