LAKEWOOD, N.J. – Credit Union Virtual Assistant, a fledgling credit union marketing firm which specializes in helping credit unions market their products and services on tight budgets, has set aside a portion of its take from a new newsletter to help a struggling community development credit union. Citizens East CDCU, a $325,000 credit union, serves 1,600 members in an impoverished part of Pittsburgh. The credit union has been struggling with loan losses and falling capital and faces an NCUA deadline of May 31 to either merge or close, according to Patsy Austin, Citizen’s manager. Austin said CUVA’s help has been welcome as the credit union seeks to make itself as attractive a merger partner as possible. The credit union has approached five larger Pennsylvania credit unions for a potential merger and has been rebuffed by four, Austin said. “We have had some promising responses from the fifth but I don’t want to say who they are until we hear for sure,” Austin said. CUVA will donate 25% of each new subscription to the firm’s 80/20 Marketing newsletter, an eight-page quarterly publication that will seek to help credit unions identify the 20% of their marketing efforts that, the firm says, brings 80% of their results. Laura Enock, CEO of the 18-month old marketing firm, said the newsletter’s underlying principle of 20% of an effort bringing 80% of the results can be found across a number of different fields. In law enforcement it’s an oft quoted standard that 20% of the criminals commit 80% of the crimes, Enock pointed out, so you get disproportionate results by going after those 20%. “The challenge is to know which 20% of your efforts draw the 80% of the successes – that’s what our newsletter and firm seeks to try to do for credit union clients,” she said. Enock explained that a story she read in Credit Union Times about Citizens’ struggle to use direct mail to try to build donations touched her because CUVA wanted to give back to credit unions. “We really wanted to give something back to credit unions who give so much to their members every day,” she added. For her part, Austin said that knowing the credit union is building support so it can merge makes her sad, but she remains committed to the credit union remaining in a community where it is badly needed. “Not a day passes where we don’t have more than 150 transactions,” Austin said. “This community and these members support this credit union and need this credit union. If merging with another credit union is the way we can keep credit union services accessible to the community here, then that is what we will do.” Austin said she had not been on the organizing committee for the credit union, but had been with Citizens since it opened its doors. She explained that she would like to stay on as manager of the credit union branch if it becomes part of a larger institution, but she recognized that would be up to their merger partner. “If the credit union staying here means I am no longer part of it, then that is what will have to be,” she said. -

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