Credit Unions Need to Talk About Their Success Stories!

I’m typing furiously this morning in an attempt to get out of the office by 11:00 am. I’m heading up to western NC to hear Kim Bohannon speak about disaster preparedness at the Western Chapter meeting in Waynesville tonight. (As an aside for League affiliates in NC, Kim has a lot of disaster preparedness tools and resources you can use in the compliance section of the web site. Contact her for more information.)

Before I head to lovely Waynesville for the chapter meeting, I’m going to meet up with Mike Whitmire of Ecusta CU. I saw Mike at State Capital Connections in Raleigh last week. In our meetings with NC legislators, Mike talked about how he lost his job at the Ecusta paper plant a few years back, and how the credit union helped him manage his financial obligations while he was looking for a new job.

What a great story – here is a guy who had two kids … one in college and the other in high school … and he needed to figure out what to do when the plant suddenly closed. Luckily, he had home equity to fall back on – and this helped him meet his obligations to his family, go to school and go into an entirely different career (accounting).

Mike didn’t need a handout – he just needed a partner to help him navigate some tough waters. That partner was Ecusta CU.

After getting his degree, Mike ended up working for the credit union! Anyway, we’re going to be doing a writeup on Mike’s experience with job change and how Ecusta CU was there for him when he needed them most. (3/28: Edit to add that the story is now posted on the League web site.)

Isn’t it great to have CU advocates with powerful stories like that when we speak with lawmakers?

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of stories just like that across NC – someone hits a rough patch financially, and the credit union is there to help the member help themselves. While these issues can sometimes be very personal in nature, credit unions need to continue telling stories like this.

Mike went to Raleigh to share his powerful experience, but I encourage you to talk about your success stories everywhere you can. From your web site to your newsletter, and from local reporters to the Rotary Club, credit unions should emphasize how we’re different in very personal, specific ways.

A lot of times we complain that people don’t consider us when they are thinking about their financial service choices. But what are we doing to highlight our niche in the financial services arena (namely, that we aren’t a bunch of money grubbers)?

With stories like Mike’s, we have a proud niche of public and consumer service — but if we aren’t willing to tell folks about it, credit unions can’t expect a lot of new faces to show up in the lobby.

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