WASHINGTON -- For the first time ever, the National Credit Union Foundation will launch a series of print advertisements in the national trade press to increase awareness of its Community Investment Fund.
Credit unions investing in the CIF put funds into an account at a participating corporate credit union. The corporate credit union reinvests those funds into a designated account at U.S. Central Credit Union, designed specifically for the CIF. A portion of the dividend is paid monthly to the foundation to support state and national development initiatives. NCUF splits the dividends with the state foundation or league based on a pro rata share. The remaining dividend earned on the account is paid to participating credit unions.
The CIF is the foundation's principal means for funding innovation grants, which focus on helping credit unions develop projects related to financial education, transaction services, savings, credit and homeownership. The foundation also administers the REAL Solutions program which cooperates with the leagues to help credit unions develop programs tailored to their own circumstances to help underserved communities.
The ad campaign is aimed at humanizing the CIF's work, moving it away from the institutional grant level and making the case that the CIF donates money to make an impact on real people's lives, according to the NCUF.
The first ad features Harriet May, CEO of Greater El Paso's Credit Union in Texas and winner of the 2008 Herb Wegner Memorial Individual Award, the NCUF said.
Will Garfield and Odie Soon Be Spotted in the Teller Line?
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Designer carrying cases, bejeweled collars, specialized gym equipment, and now pets can have their own savings account.
Belco Community Credit Union has launched Critter Club as a fun way to help pet owners save for everything from their pet's medical expenses, boarding or grooming costs, to birthdays, food and supplies or even new pets.
The credit union may be onto something. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, Americans are expected to spend $43.4 billion on their pets in 2008, and spending on veterinary care could reach nearly $11 billion in 2008, representing a $1 billion jump from 2007.
"Our branch administrator has pets of her own and knows first hand the costs involved," said Belco CCU Community Relations Coordinator Lisa Moyer. "She did more research and found that 63% of homeowners have one or more pets, and that pet spending has more than doubled in the past 10 years. We realized quickly the opportunity to be the first financial institution here to offer pet savings accounts."
Moyer said a credit union committee of six staffers came up with the idea of a Critter Club structured much like a holiday or vacation savings club but with special incentives for pet owners.
Deposits earn 0.85% annual interest, and the accounts offer such perks as discounts at local 'Pet Partners' for services ranging from pet sitting and grooming, to adoption. Critter Club members with deposits of $75 or more are also eligible for monthly prize drawings. In what may be the quirkiest draw for pet owners, Moyer said Belco members with more than one pet are encouraged to open multiple accounts in each pet's name.
"The response to this has been simply amazing," said Moyer. "They are so excited about this account. We even had one member come in and open accounts for her one dog, three horses and a donkey."
To date 112 Critter Club accounts have been opened and Belco CCU has been contacted by a Maine CU for permission to use the name for their own pet savings account. She said it's a win-win all around that gives back to local business owners, accountholders and the community at large by promoting savings particularly in this economy.
"It's also been a great, fun way to teach children about saving money to buy their own pets," said Moyer. "When you think about it, who else but a credit union would make this type of account available it is another way to demonstrate the credit union difference."
To spread the word Belco CCU advertised not only through its newsletter, on billboards, in print and via its Web site but also raised awareness through its participation in several pet-related community events such as the Humane Society Of Harrisburg Area's 5K Walk/Run for Animals.
Moyer says the club has also generated a media buzz with the credit union being featured in the local paper's Sunday business section.
Colorado CU Association Endorses Harvey for Congress
WASHINGTON -- The Credit Union Association of Colorado has endorsed GOP candidate Ted Harvey for an open seat in that state's 6th congressional district.
"Ted Harvey understands the important role that credit unions play in providing high-quality financial services to one out of three Coloradoans," said John Dill, president/CEO of CUAC. "We are pleased to support his candidacy to serve the people of the 6th District in Congress."
Harvey is one of four candidates seeking his party's nomination in the race to replace Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who is retiring. The primary is scheduled for Aug. 10.
Two candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination in this heavily Republican district, which includes five counties in the central part of the state.
Fed Holds Steady on Rates
WASHINGTON -- The Federal Open Market Committee voted 9-1 last week to hold rates were they were, citing a credit crunch and soft labor market.
"Upside risks to inflation and inflation expectations have increased," the Fed said in a policy statement. "In light of the continued increases in the prices of energy and some other commodities and the elevated state of some indicators of inflation expectations, uncertainty about the inflation outlook remains high."
The decision keeps the rate banks use when lending to each other, at 2%. It's the first time the committee has left rates unchanged since last summer. The panel has voted rate reductions seven consecutive times.
The sole dissenter in the vote was Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher.
"Although downside risks to growth remain, they appear to have diminished somewhat," the Fed said.
Economists for the two national credit union trade associations said the decision was a boon to credit unions.
"We will still have short-term rates that are below long-term rates, which is good for credit unions because the short-term rates drive what they have to pay on deposits while long term rates have a bigger influence on that they earn on loans," said CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel.
"The cost of funds will get lower for credit unions and this will give them a chance to catch up. They can be competitive on CD rates," said Tun Wai, NAFCU's director of research and chief economist.