Our mission is to “provide access to credit for provident purposes.”
Credit unions live up to that mission every day in many ways. Whether it’s providing a home, transportation, business, or credit card, or improving members’ financial well-being, credit unions have loan programs to meet members’ needs.
But how often do our members fail to benefit from what we have to offer? How can we become more proactive and creative within our lending programs? Doing so can be life-changing for our members.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Listerhill Credit Union has become more proactive and creative in meeting members’ lending needs.
We did this because we recognized the precarious state of many members’ financial condition in a world that was being suspended, postponed, and shut down in the throes of a debilitating pandemic.
Many members saw their financial viability threatened by interruptions to their employment as their employers suspended operations or closed their doors under the threat of the pandemic’s spread.
We also saw major changes in members’ purchasing decisions and behaviors. Many made purchases around changing lifestyles the pandemic brought. People migrated to outdoor activities and recreation centered around their homes and families.
Farm equipment, boats, recreational vehicles, pools, and the like became more the norm as people adjusted their lives closer to home and family in response to the virus.
As a result, we developed loan campaigns in 2020 and 2021 to save members money or make purchases centered around their adjusted lifestyles.
In 2020, we incented our members to borrow from us for those timely purposes. We paid our members a cash rebate equal to 1.5% of the amount financed on all consumer loans.
Many took advantage and found that incentive to be the catalyst to bring loans from other providers and save money by lowering their rates in addition to the cash rebate. Others moved forward with purchases that allowed them to adjust their family’s lifestyle and activities to safer spaces outdoors and closer to home.
We experienced our best loan production in our almost 70-year history. In addition to saving members money, we paid them more than $1.2 million in cash rebates.
In 2021, we continued a version of that campaign with a reduced rebate but refreshed with a “Great Giveback” contest that paid off up to $25,000 of debt for our grand prize winner.
The winner was a veteran who had borrowed money to provide a heating and cooling system for his church. We paid off his remaining balance and donated to the charity of his choice.
When we asked what he’d do now that he was debt free, he said he might borrow money to buy a fishing boat he’d always wanted.
While 2021 should be another record year for us in loan production, we helped many members save money by refinancing debt and putting cash in their pockets.
And hopefully our grand prize winner is on the water catching fish in the new boat he’d always admired.
We can truly “provide access to credit for provident purposes” when we proactively and creatively seek to do so. Credit unions aren’t just faceless financial institutions behind shiny buildings, ATMs, or smartphone apps.
We’re our members’ best financial partner, and that means proactively and creatively fulfilling their best interests.
We have flexibility, knowledge, and, most importantly, the accountability to find new and creative ways to meet our members’ needs.
Proactively think of what your credit union can do. Get creative. Think outside the box. Our members deserve it.
BRAD GREEN is CUNA Board chair and president/CEO of Listerhill Credit Union. Contact him at 256-383-9204 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.This article appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Credit Union Magazine. Subscribe here.