WASHINGTON – Speaking to a general session audience Monday at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference, National Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Gigi Hyland stressed the importance of creating awareness of credit unions as consumers’ best financial partner.
“Time and time again in my 23-year credit union career, I’ve been faced with this question from my friends, neighbors and community members: Yeah, there is a credit union in my community. I don’t really know what they do. Don’t you have to join or something?” Hyland said. “As a credit union system, we are not the best at creating awareness about who we are and what we do. We must change that.”
Hyland shared three tips on how credit unions can create awareness:
- Credit unions should strive to become part of the strategic architecture of their communities’ financial literacy efforts. Hyland noted that one way of doing this is for credit unions to find unlikely partners in their community such as nonprofits, local government, other cooperatives, farmers’ markets, food banks, asset-building coalitions, etc.
- Credit unions should be strategic in their philanthropic efforts and ensure they are connected to improving consumer’s financial lives. Additionally, credit unions should connect the business of the credit union – saving, lending, education, other financial products and services – to the charitable donations made by the credit union.
- Credit unions should lead efforts to improve their community’s financial well-being. Hyland noted that this could be done in a variety of ways and pointed to a few examples such as reality fairs for high school students, retirement fairs and acting as a trusted community source or financial information.
“Creating awareness is powerful and plays a large role in realizing the vision we are discussing here at GAC,” Hyland said.