RALEIGH, N.C. -- Local Government Federal Credit Union has found a unique way to shine a spotlight on its volunteers.
The credit union has not only introduced a new position--Volunteer
Development Officer--but has created a special brand exclusively for its 217-strong volunteer force.
"We've always placed a strong emphasis on volunteer service here, it is what defines us as an organization and is our competitive advantage," said LGFCU President Maurice Smith. "As far as we are concerned 217 volunteers is not enough--we want to quadruple that number."
The volunteer branding effort is designed to help with easy recognition in the community while also building awareness of the volunteer opportunities available at LGFCU. The credit union volunteers now have their own color, a color set apart from LGFCU's branded color palette. The new teal-green will be used in materials and correspondence with LGFCU volunteers.
Smith adds that given the credit union serves 100 counties, 545 municipalities and some 50 hospitals, as the "eyes and ears" of LGFCU the volunteers are an invaluable resource.
"North Carolina is a big state and there are a lot of individual groups of employees that each deserve a voice in the governance of our credit union," said Smith. "In any county there are dozens of towns or cities so there are still large pockets of groups that may not have established representation here and we're reaching out to them."
The second component to establishing the new volunteer "brand" is the creation of a volunteer development officer, who is dedicated to cultivating relationships and developing a growing talent pool of volunteers. With the newly branded materials the officer also brings volunteers up to speed on the latest credit union news and constantly promotes volunteer opportunities.
"The special effort drives the point home that volunteers here are not just in name but they are true advocates for members because we do want them to be actively involved," said Smith. "The other advantage is that the volunteers can then take the branded material and share it with their fellow employees."
The majority of the LGFCU volunteer force serves on advisory councils spread across some 17 regions around the state. While the advisory boards officially meet twice a year, Smith says they are in constant communication with the credit union every month via personal phone calls or personal visits.
"The advisory council's purpose is two-fold to disseminate information about the credit union and to serve as a focus group," said Smith. "So if we have a new policy, procedure or service we ask them what do they think and I can't tell you how many times they've saved us. Many times we thought we had some brilliant idea and they shot holes in it or it wasn't something members found value in so we owe our lives to them. The volunteers are like a renewable source of energy and are the real power that makes our credit union successful."
He says sometimes the credit union's most vocal critic makes for the best volunteer.
"That person who took the time to pick up the phone or write a letter to gripe about something we've done is a person who cares enough to want us to improve rather than just closing their account and walking away," said Smith. "So whenever I get the calls or letters, those outspoken people are invited to be a part of the solution. They are the most enthusiastic about their credit union and make the best advocates. Those strong feelings are what lead to ideas that can drive better member service and make us a better credit union."
He adds that volunteers are needed now more than ever.
"These are perilous time for credit unions especially on the political front where we are being attacked," said Smith. "Having this group of people who care enough to make the credit union work are who we want and need out front and center to tell all their neighbors, friends, family and legislators how vital and important credit unions are."