When I read Mike Welch's publisher's column a couple of weeks ago regarding non-affiliates attending CUNA and league meetings, it was like de'ja'vu all over again. As Mike probably remembers, we went through this same type of issue over 30 years ago. I was a branch manager at Vista Federal Credit Union and Mike was the CEO of the Credit Union Executives Society. My CU was not affiliated with the California League. At that time, CUES had a policy that would not permit a non-affiliated credit union's employees to become members. In 1973 I heard Mike speak in Miami and the affiliation issue was raised from the floor. One individual who spoke passionately toward the issue was now deceased credit union pioneer Louise Herring. Part of her remarks, as I remember, was to point out that CUNA itself would not have developed if they had a non-affiliation policy in their infancy. Sometime later the CUES bylaws were changed so that non-affiliated CU management staff could participate in CUES. I have always been puzzled about the non-affiliated credit union exclusion from CUNA meetings. Isn't it logical that if they allowed non-affiliates to attend, CUNA would have a chance to "convert and sell" the attendees? Wouldn't the non-affiliates be more likely to convert if they saw the benefits of membership first hand at the meetings? If I had never attended a CUNA meeting, what would make me eager to join? When I was on the membership committee at NAFCU that was one of the primary methods we used to get new members. We allowed and even encouraged non-NAFCU members to attend our meetings (we called them prospective members). When they registered at the conference, we gave them special colored name badges, ribbons and sometimes put a sticker on their badge to identify that they were prospects. Other NAFCU members would go out of their way to "sell" them on membership. It worked very well. It also works very well for my Rotary club, Kiwanis, Exchange club, the Chamber of Commerce and virtually every fraternal club and membership based organization. Bring in people who don't know what and/or who your organization is and hope they like what they see. I know it worked that way for me. I started attending CUES meetings before I was able to join and then bugged the heck out of CUES officials until they changed their minds. One final thought about non-affiliate attendance. I have attended a lot of CUNA and state league sponsored meetings over the past 32 years. I do not remember attending any meetings that didn't have at least one (usually more) non-affiliate in attendance. I have seen every thing from vendors who sit in on the sessions to our banking competitors listening in as we develop our strategy. "The sign seems to read," Bankers and Peddlers Welcome, Credit Unions Stay Away! Does that seem strange to anyone? Paul F. Simkins President CORE Credit Union Columbus, Ohio (Turn to page 42 to read up on Simkins' CU history and what he has planned as he nears retirement the end of this month.)
Excluding Non-Affiliates is Senseless
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