Due to cuts to marketing budgets in recent years and a lack of interest among members, most credit union annual meetings aren’t much of a gala these days. However, these four credit unions produced creative annual meeting events that have attracted member interest and participation.
Credit Union Of America
Employees and volunteers did the “Harlem Shake” to bring excitement to the credit union’s virtual annual meeting.
$522 million Credit Union of America
Members attended: 37 in person, more than 2,000 “virtually”
While Credit Union of America’s board wants to keep the tradition of a large, in-person annual meeting alive, members aren’t as interested in attending the event as they used to, said Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Glenda Burkett.
So a few years ago, the 50,000-member Kansas credit union starting producing large events every other year; and in addition, began leveraging the power of the Internet by producing a virtual annual meeting in the form of a four- to seven-minute video, posted on its website and on its YouTube channel.
In addition to financial reports, the video also features something silly that featured the credit union’s younger employees. This year, that something silly was a performance of the so-called “Harlem Shake” that also got older employees and volunteers into the act.
“We rolled it out at the annual meeting,” Burkett said. “The average age there was close to 60 so they didn’t really ‘get it’, but they said they liked it. But then whole point of it is to show young people that the credit union is a place for you, too, and we have something for everyone.”
To promote the video, the credit union offered a $10 iTunes gift card to the first 500 members to view it, a milestone Burkett said was reached in less than 48 hours. As of April 22, the video had more than 2,000 views on YouTube.
Next: Down to Earth (Day)
Summit CU members enjoyed the Aldo Leopold Nature Center’s exhibits, including a news studio that lets kids produce their own weather reports.
$1.9 billion Summit Credit Union
Monday, April 22
This Earth Day-themed celebration was an attempt to transition Summit’s annual meeting into an annual event that celebrates the cooperative difference, said Linda Voit, corporate communications strategist. As a result, the event was held at Aldo Leopold Nature Center under a big tent.
The credit union’s management team and board brainstormed the idea during last year’s strategic planning session and engaged other cooperatives in the area for ideas, Voit said. Employees from all credit union departments and from different age groups were also asked for ideas to attract more families.
In an attempt to attract more young members and women, the actual meeting was kept short, and attendees were encouraged to explore the nature center, enjoy a cookout, and listen to guest speakers talk about “green” living and the credit union’s financial education programs.
Children received backpacks with green activities inside, and adults received insulated, reusable bags and an umbrella, which Voit said was not only a welcomed gift, but also “an insurance policy to make sure it won’t rain.”
“When you think about it, the annual meeting is a cornerstone piece of what a cooperative is all about,” Voit said. “So instead of shrinking from that, to build an event around it is, we think, a good idea.”
The cost of the annual meeting represents about 1% of the credit union’s annual marketing budget, Voit said.
Next: Pipes and Drums
The Spokane County Firefighters Pipe and Drum Corps provided the sound and sights for the Spokane Firefighters CU meeting.
$40.5 million Spokane Firefighters Credit Union
Members attended: 200
If you've got your own credit union and your own pipe and drums corps, why not?
Combining two events in one is a great way for this single-sponsor credit union to attract 10% of its membership to its annual meeting.
“It’s really the biggest social event of the year for the fire department,” said CEO Todd Powell, who is a full-time firefighter and runs the credit union part time. “We don’t really have a firemen’s ball, so the credit union has traditionally always put on the big event.”
Powell said for the past five years, the party has been at a local hotel ballroom and has included a buffet dinner, awards ceremony, entertainment, prizes and dancing. The Spokane County Firefighters Pipes and Drum Corps provided this year’s entertainment.
The credit union spends about $10,000 on the event, which represents about half of its marketing budget. It also sponsors another big social event for its field of membership, a BBQ in June that usually feeds about 300 members.
“We’re so close to our field of membership, we don’t have to spend a lot of money on marketing,” Powell said.
Next: All in the Family
Family Trust Credit Union's legacy sponsor group still attends the annual meeting in strong numbers, and bring along family members, sometimes including four generations at once.
$300 million Family Trust FCU
Rock Hill, S.C.
Members attended: more than 500
Family Trust’s annual meeting, which includes the traditional light hors d'oeuvres, free gifts and entertainment, has continued to attract members from the credit union’s legacy sponsor group, a textile plant that has since closed.
“We have a lot of members who are older, who worked in the plant, have deep roots in the area, and like to come out and see old friends,” said Kendra Collins, community relations coordinator for the South Carolina credit union just south of Charlotte.
Collins said the credit union is attempting to attract more young members and families by promoting it on social media, keeping the meeting short, providing dinner, and this year hiring a young, contemporary singer to provide entertainment.
Members are also encouraged to give testimonials during the event about how credit union products and services have helped them achieve financial success.
The event costs approximately $15,000, she said. Next year, the credit union will be located in a new headquarters building, and may move the event there.
“We’re always looking for new ways to do the voting process, speed up the meeting, and overall, make it more family friendly,” she said.