So you're likely to lose a huge chunk of interchange and overdraft income, your credit union is going to pay out the wazoo in NCUA assessments and your net interest margin is upside down. Credit unions must dive into this new era of business feet first.
Eliminate free checking. Once you've given consumers something, it can be difficult to take it back, but rewards checking could make a fee easier for members to swallow. Pushing members toward online banking by setting e-statement and electronic transaction requirements could create such a cost savings that a fee might not be necessary.
Revisit your marketing budgets. Certainly there are cheap alternatives like social media and your website, but that is marketing to existing members.
Attracting new members is yet another way to generate new income. A billboard, bus stop posters and subway placards could bring in more new members; a campaign that links the physical and virtual worlds together would be even more effective.
Look at expanding your field of membership. Common knowledge is saying that hasn't been particularly effective; that just means you have to be uncommon. Do your research to really learn about the community, not just the demographics, but attend community days and county fairs. Drive the streets. Also, check out the asset quality of an area. The information is out there to make an educated decision about where to take your credit union.
And then, please, learn to market to the new potential members.
If your budget can't possibly be pumped up, increase your efforts with your website. Google your state and various areas of business your credit union is involved in. Does your credit union come up in the first couple of pages? If not, make it. I Googled "credit union." Several entries (including Credit Union Times) come up before any credit unions. The first credit unions listed were UW Credit Union followed by The Golden 1 and BECU. In the collaborative spirit, you might want to pick the brains of their IT folks.
An increase in member business lending powers for credit unions is absolutely a potential source of fee income, in addition to all the other services like checking and credit cards that come with it. Lobby for it, even if your credit union isn't interested right now, having the option available can't hurt.
This isn't a down economy--it's the new economy. Toughen up if you're really serious about making up for lost income. If operational efficiencies can be gained by outsourcing without a loss of quality control, it's difficult to fight that. Study whether your credit union is appropriately staffed. Consider layoffs or at least retraining employees. You can outsource collections to better recoup on delinquencies and bankruptcies, but retrain Steve who's been in that job for 20 years as a credit counselor. His salary could be more than paid for in more effective collections.