“When I think of community outreach, I think of philanthropy … for-profit terminology,” John Korber, SVP, strategy and innovation for the $526 million, Rocky Hill, Conn.-based Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union, explained. “Outreach means I have enough money to give away a few turkeys!”

Edward Filene, father of the American credit union movement, pioneered a vision of cooperative community financial services, which promoted equity and sustainability for the engaged workers of early 20th Century America. From the very beginning, credit unions sought to advance the well-being of members and communities they served. Today, our industry faces the challenge and the historical call to innovate and rejuvenate sustainable, relevant, revenue-generating community connection in a challenging financial climate approaching levels of uncertainty rivaled only by (and proving daily to be more precarious than) events like the Great Recession and Great Depression – which, for many professionals today, are primarily ancient events in history books.

The streaming money phenomena – the rapidly materializing merger of money with the internet – and digital evolution of community, demand that credit unions extend their value to create diverse, equitable and inclusive ecospheres of engagement. These inclusive ecospheres of engagement or “digital fields of membership” are powerful opportunities untethered to your physical communities and unencumbered by the limitations of traditional fields of membership. They offer credit unions new ways to engage the public to promote and protect the financial wealth and health of communities.

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