WASHINGTON – Speaking to ageneral session audience Monday at CUNA's Governmental AffairsConference, National Credit Union Foundation Executive DirectorGigi Hyland stressed the importance of creating awareness ofcredit unions as consumers' best financial partner.

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“Time and time again in my 23-year credit union career, I'vebeen faced with this question from my friends, neighbors andcommunity members: Yeah, there is a credit union in my community. Idon't really know what they do. Don't you have to join orsomething?” Hyland said. “As a credit union system, we are not thebest at creating awareness about who we are and what we do. We mustchange that.”

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Hyland shared three tips on how credit unions can createawareness:

  1. Credit unions should strive to become part of the strategicarchitecture of their communities' financial literacy efforts.Hyland noted that one way of doing this is for credit unions tofind unlikely partners in their community such as nonprofits, localgovernment, other cooperatives, farmers' markets, food banks,asset-building coalitions, etc.
  2. Credit unions should be strategic in their philanthropic efforts and ensure they are connected toimproving consumer's financial lives. Additionally, credit unionsshould connect the business of the credit union – saving, lending,education, other financial products and services – to thecharitable donations made by the credit union.
  3. Credit unions should lead efforts to improve their community'sfinancial well-being. Hyland noted that this could be done in avariety of ways and pointed to a few examples such as reality fairsfor high school students, retirement fairs and acting as a trustedcommunity source or financial information.

“Creating awareness is powerful and plays a large role inrealizing the vision we are discussing here at GAC,” Hylandsaid.

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