I took some time to sit down with Kevin Smith, CUNA Instructional Design Manager, who worked with developing and launching the membership to get his perspective on its usefulness and value for credit unions. Read on to find out what he had to say as he prepared for the launch last week.
What inspired the creation of the CUNA Volunteer Network?
The job of credit union directors is getting increasingly complex, more demanding of time and attention, as well as requiring more expertise. It’s incumbent upon CUNA to provide products and services to help directors keep up with demand and to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. We see that directors get a great value from networking opportunities at our schools and conferences. However, networking is challenging for them to continue outside of a conference environment. We also hear from directors who are traveling to conferences less often for a variety of reasons and they want a way to stay connected. There are a surprising number of directors at conference events using cutting-edge technology to try to keep up with everything (iPhones, laptops, Blackberries, etc.).
This all suggests that volunteers are very busy and need a community of resources to help them excel in their roles as directors. Therefore, the CUNA Volunteer Network was “born” out of the necessity for board and committee members to keep up with credit union issues and connected with each other.
CUNA identified a number of trends that inspired the idea of a network of volunteers. Through focus groups of credit union volunteers, we fine-tuned the specifics of how that network would be delivered and what it would include to provide value. We make a concerted effort to pay close attention to our directors to ensure we give them the tools they need, so this membership is an example of just that.
Due to recent regulatory changes affecting board members, CUNA sees the need for volunteers to stay up-to-date and connected becoming even more important given the additional expectations being placed on board members. Volunteers are looking for more online resources, so a membership-based website was very well received by our focus groups and we thank them for their input.
What have you found is the most attractive value to credit unions to want to join?
By far the access to leading industry training, tools and peer advice anytime and from anywhere has been a big interest point for credit unions. Specifically, the list serve, 20 online training courses, and Director’s Newsletter have been getting a lot of interest because of the value on a variety of potential topics each provides.
How are membership benefits different than the benefits of being a member of CUNA?
You have to be a volunteer or CEO of a CUNA and league-affiliated credit union to be a member of the CUNA Volunteer Network. The network provides opportunities that are focused specifically on the roles of credit union board and supervisory committee members. The membership benefits include additional discounts and access to tools and information CUNA offers, plus some exclusive options for just the CUNA Volunteer Network members at an affordable value. Basically, if a board or board member takes advantage of even half of the tools available to them through the network, they’ve more than paid for their membership and it’s all served up on an easy-to-use and access website.
Learn more about the network at training.cuna.org/volnet.