Celebrating 208 Million Members
Credit unions are spreading awareness about the benefits of membership on International Credit Union Day on Thursday by promoting the theme of “Local Service. Global Good.”
The Young Professionals group at the $1.4 billion Royal Credit Union in Claire, Wis., conducted cash mobs at many of their community’s local businesses to celebrate the 67th annual ICU Day.
“They will be spreading the good word about the credit union movement, handing out ‘I love my CU’ cups with $2 bills inside. They also created a nice, two-sided flyer with more information about ICU Day and Royal Credit Union,” Jennifer McHugh, community relations manager, said.
“Royal Credit Union participates in International Credit Union Day to recognize our members, celebrate the cooperative spirit, share the [credit union] message and have some fun,” she added.
The flash mob idea derived from a brainstorming session held by Royal’s marketing department.
“Why others don’t do it? I’m not really sure,” McHugh said. “It does take some work and planning, but we enjoy celebrating this event every year. It’s well worth the effort we put into it.
Will Wille, public relations coordinator for the Illinois Credit Union League, said the organization partnered with CU Lunch Local, which was established by the Michigan Credit Union League two years ago.
The goal of the CU Lunch Local cash mob program is to put thousands of dollars back in the pockets of Main Street businesses across 11 states, including Illinois, he explained.
“Some chapters went to local establishments and give out gift cards,” Wille said. “Multiple chapters picked up the tab for patrons at a local restaurant, which presented an opportunity to engage with the public and discuss the importance of credit unions.”
CUNA and the state leagues helped mark the occasion by providing thematic materials for a fee to credit unions such as t-shirts, bags, USB car chargers and other merchandise.
“Product lines are a minor source of revenue; our focus is equipping credit unions with things they look to use in their celebrations,” Vicki Christner, CUNA media relations manager, said.
In conjunction with the Children’s Miracle Network and Credit Unions for Kids, CUNA also promoted a one-day fundraiser to celebrate ICU Day at credit unions.
Through the program, each time members use their credit union-issued debit and credit cards at participating credit unions on ICU Day, the credit union will donate $0.25 or other designated amount to its local CMN Hospital, Pat Keefe, SVP of communications at CUNA, said.
The extent to which credit unions celebrate the day is dependent on local resources, money, time and other factors, Keefe said.
“Credit unions and associations throughout the world celebrate the cooperative spirit of doing something good on this day with open houses, contests, picnics, charity drives and parades,” CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle said.
On Thursday, credit unions around the world will unite behind the message of ‘Local Service. Global Good’ for International Credit Union Day and share their stories with the hashtag #ICUDay, he added.
Rebecca Carpenter, marketing & communications specialist at the World Council of Credit Unions, said the organization selected this year’s theme of “Local Service. Global Good”to highlight the positive impact credit unions make in their members’ communities around the world.
“To bring this theme to life, we’ve invited credit unions to celebrate ICU Day by implementing a fundraising campaign in support of a local or national charity,” Carpenter said. “We’ve provided a variety of free materials to help credit unions celebrate, including celebration and fundraising ideas, graphics, and a promotional materials kit.”
Carpenter was asked why the day is important for the industry.
“Within our powerful network of 57,000 credit unions in 103 countries, credit unions have decided to celebrate ICU Day in many different ways,” she said. “What binds these celebrations together is an effort to show appreciation to the world’s 208 million members – even if that means a simple ‘thank you.’”
Patty Briotta, director of public relations at NAFCU, said the value of credit unions’ not-for-profit, member-owned business model is worthy of celebrating every day of the year, not just on Oct.16.
“Anytime we can champion the important role credit unions play in the financial landscape it is a good thing,” she said.
Next year, Briotta said NAFCU will take credit unions back to their roots in Canada, home to the first credit union in North America, when the trade group will hold its 48th Annual Conference and Solutions Expo in Montréal, Quebéc.
“The theme of this year’s International Credit Union Day is ‘Local Service, Global Good,’ and credit unions certainly exemplify the model of community institutions with a world-wide reach,” NCUA Chairman Debbie Matz said. “But the theme is also a reminder about the cybersecurity risks we all now face.
“Financial transactions now take place in milliseconds, from laptops and smart phones, across continents and oceans,” Matz said. “This convenience provides credit union members with greater access to financial services, but it also means they are vulnerable to criminals on the other side of the world, who can hack into accounts and steal money or information just as quickly. So, credit unions must be vigilant every minute, every hour, and every day of the year.”