TOLEDO, Ohio -Credit unions interested in turning their annual meeting into the talk of the town may want to pick a theme. After all, members attending the Sun Federal Credit Union 53rd annual meeting didn’t know they’d be “following the yellow brick pathway” to fun. “We do a theme for each annual meeting based on our accomplishments and we just started thinking about how we built these stronger relationship pathways with members, and then it didn’t take long to make the connection with the yellow brick road and Oz,” said Sun FCU Vice President of Marketing Paula Saunders. “Once we set the theme everything else just seemed to fall into place. It is a unique approach to really getting the members involved.” In late December, the $200-million credit union tapped Sun FCU Vice President of Finance Brian Hughes to be the skit writer/director and started recruiting Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Glinda the Good and of course the Wicked Witch of the West. After staffers memorized their lines, monthly hour long rehearsals were held at least once a week. The skit starts out with Dorothy in the Land of Sun after accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the East who cast spells of financial hardship and trouble. She is then sent on a mission to find the Wizard of Sun so she can eventually go “home” to a place where she matters and where a spell of financial trouble can never be cast. On the way she meets a scarecrow who needs an education, a tin man who needs a home, and a cowardly lion who is looking for some financial security. The Wicked Witch of the West, who caused 200 bankruptcies in Munchkinland, tries to take her sister’s ruby slippers from Dorothy but ends up melting away. The wizard grants the scarecrow a student loan at a great interest rate, the tin man a construction loan and low rate mortgage with flexible terms and the cowardly lion an IRA and the number for a Sun Financial Planner. As for Dorothy she learns that there is no place like Sun and returns home to spread the word. After the skit Sun FCU presented a short business meeting. “Not only did members love the skit but they were still able to walk away with the message that our credit union has not only accomplished a lot but we have so much more to offer,” said Saunders. Saunders suggests that once a theme is selected credit unions should then build on it to create a whole member experience. Sun FCU was able to keep costs down through partnerships within the community. For example, members were greeted at the door by “Land of Sun” costumed characters. In addition, the St. Michael’s Centre in Oregon, Ohio was transformed into the “Land of Sun” with help from local Clay High School students who painted backdrops for the “stage” and cardboard cutouts of the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch for complimentary member portraits snapped by a photographer. Pictures were then encased in an acrylic frame for members to take home as a memento of the evening. In playing up the “Auntie Em” angle dinner consisted of gourmet down home cooking and the popular local duo of Darryl and Allie Gatlin kept the over 320 attendees dancing the night away. “This is the first time that every single attendee stayed for the entire event,” said Saunders. The only challenge now Saunders says is coming up with something that will top this year’s meeting. [email protected]

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