Posts Tagged financial education

Yes, You Can Use Pinterest for Your Credit Union

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 February, 2012

This post was originally published on CUinsight.com.

To pin or not to pin? As the popularity of Pinterest continues to grow, that is the question many credit union professionals are starting to ask.

If you’re not already familiar with the website, here’s a quick rundown: Pinterest is a social bookmarking website that allows you to collect—or “pin”—content from around the Web to personalized pinboards. The usefulness for credit unions might not be immediately apparent. After all, Pinterest is practically tailor-made for brands that specialize in fashion, cooking, housewares, and other visually oriented pursuits.

So do credit unions really have a place on Pinterest? I would argue that they do—if you give some deeper thought to your current and prospective members’ motivation before diving in.

But first, let’s talk about some statistics. In terms of numbers, it making more and more sense to have a presence on Pinterest because that’s where the Web users are. Check out these insights compiled by Monetate, a provider of digital marketing and optimization tools:

  • Estimated unique visitors to Pinterest increased by 329% from September to December 2011.
  • Pinterest is now driving more Web traffic than Google+.
  • The top five tips for using Pinterest include promoting a lifestyle, using it as a focus group, crowdsourcing, running contests, and inspiring your team.

So what are some specific ways that credit unions can start pinning? The key is to tap into the goals of members, and show them how your credit union can play a vital role in helping them achieve those goals.

Think about it like this: Users typically use their boards as future inspiration. They might pin images of new cars, dream kitchens, vacation destinations, or splurge-worthy shoes. Do you notice a pattern here? Your credit union can help members work toward all of these goals. You just have to position yourself on Pinterest as their biggest financial adviser and cheerleader. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Create a collaborative pinboard of potential savings goals, and invite other users to become contributors. Encourage them to pin content related to whatever they want to save money for, and offer advice and feedback through comments.
  • Lots of pinners use Pinterest to find creative ideas for kids. Try creating a pinboard that focuses on projects or activities that teach children about money. Or, for something more lighthearted, create a pinboard dedicated to something quirky, like unique piggy banks. A quick Web search should reveal lots of fun images worth pinning.
  • Use pins to direct members to specific areas of your website. But make sure you’re actually sharing content that will genuinely interest members. For instance, does your credit union maintain a blog or write articles for members? Pin attention-grabbing images or infographics that link back to your content.

As with any form of social media, getting started with Pinterest might be a trial-and-error process at first—and that’s perfectly okay. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches and strategies to find what works best for your followers.

Have you started using Pinterest for your credit union? Share your experience with a comment!


CUNA Launches Youth Week Online Store with Early Bird Discount

Posted by on Wednesday, 18 January, 2012

MADISON, Wis. (January 17, 2012)—CUNA recently launched its National Credit Union Youth Week™ online store  and is providing early bird prices for credit unions. Youth Week will be celebrated April 22-28, 2012.

Through March 9, credit unions can save 10% on print materials to promote the “Be a Credit Union Super Saver™” theme and events, financial education materials to introduce money concepts to youth, fun items to reward young savers and apparel to dress the part in April. Discounts of up to 10% apply to standard items in inventory and bulk or customized orders.

“We’re excited to continue helping credit unions celebrate their young members and promote financial education,” says Joanne Sepich, CUNA’s Youth Week coordinator. “Youth Week is a great time to get youth into good saving habits that can last a lifetime.”

Credit unions can also choose to participate in the nationwide Saving Challenge, in which hundreds of credit unions track youth savings deposits during the month of April. CUNA will award $100 cash prizes to youth at 10 of the participating credit unions.

“Participating in the Saving Challenge is a great way for individual credit unions to raise awareness about the importance of financial responsibility and the benefits of credit union membership on a national scale,” adds Sepich. “Last year, participating credit unions reported more than 9000 new accounts and savings deposits of $28.5 million. This is a prime opportunity to increase member involvement.”

For Youth Week and throughout April, credit unions can outfit staff in Super Saver two-color imprint T-shirts in adult and youth sizes. Credit unions save on the upgraded tee and can both select the color and customize by adding the credit union name. Available in five colors, the shirt features the Credit Union Super Saver dollar sign logo highlighted by a yellow lightning bolt across its front.

“Although the price of cotton is about double what it was two years ago, we’ve found a great shirt with a two-color imprint for less than you’ll find a one-color imprint,” explains Sepich. “We know that credit unions are looking for value these days, and these shirts are just one of the many cost-effective and visually impactful ways to celebrate Youth Week.”

Also new for this year’s Youth Week, the online store builds upon the International Credit Union Day store design. Improved product categories support enhanced item browsing and easier site navigation.

For updates on Youth Week, credit union staff may sign up for a free e-newsletter and visit cuna.org/youthweek.


State of Wisconsin Honors CUNA’s Money Mission with 2011 Wisconsin Financial Literacy Award

Posted by on Tuesday, 10 January, 2012

MADISON, Wis. (January 9, 2012)– CUNA is pleased to announce that the Wisconsin Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy has named Money Mission LLC a recipient of the 2011 Wisconsin Financial Literacy Award. Money Mission, along with other recipients, was recognized for its efforts to improve the collective knowledge of personal finance among Wisconsin citizens.

Money Mission is an interactive, web-based simulation designed to educate young adults about the fundamentals of personal finance. It is not a series of tutorials, but rather an engaging and entertaining journey built from the most basic concepts of value and money through complex issues such as taxes, inflation and globalism.

“Financial education is a core operating principle of credit unions, and one that state and federal lawmakers pay close attention to,” said Bill Cheney, CUNA president/CEO. “Projects like Money Mission increase awareness of credit unions and their values, and demonstrate credit unions’ commitment to the community and long-term financial health of their members.”

Money Mission and the other recipients were selected from 45 nominations submitted for consideration. Criteria used in the screening process included innovative implementation, demonstrated measureable results, collaboration with partners, whether the effort was statewide or had the potential to be statewide and whether the effort was focused on needs-based groups.

“We are honored that Money Mission has been recognized for its educational efforts by the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and by the state of Wisconsin,” says Jan Garkey, manager of group instruction at CUNA. “Every day we enjoy helping teens become financially responsible citizens.”

“The recipients of the Wisconsin Financial Literacy Award are helping Wisconsinites of all ages improve their personal finance skills in our schools, in the workplace and in communities across the state,” says Governor Scott Walker. “These citizen leaders equip students, parents, peers and consumers with the necessary tools to make informed decisions about their own money, which improves individual quality of life, as well as the Wisconsin economy.”

The results of Money Mission have been measured by the degree of participation and engagement. Almost 30 credit unions in Wisconsin participate, and nearly 4,000 students in over 40 states have signed on for Money Mission in just over a year of operation. The program is available through credit unions nationwide and is accessible to any interested participant. Further, the initiative has helped several students realize their college dreams through its scholarship awards.

“More information about Money Mission can be found here, or by emailing Jan Garkey.”


CUNA to Select Twelve Students for Googolplex Youth Editorial Board

Posted by on Thursday, 5 January, 2012

MADISON, Wis. (January 5, 2012)—Representatives from CUNA will select students from across America to serve one-year terms as youth editorial board members for the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) toolkit called Googolplex: The Credit Union Guide for Student Moneymakers.

Requests for applications are currently being accepted through February 6, 2012, for all 12 positions. The new student board members’ terms will begin on June 1, 2012.

“Year after year, the insight we receive from these bright students is instrumental in designing financial literacy tools that resonate strongly with children and young adults,” says Rena Crispin, Googolplex managing editor. “At CUNA, we believe that it’s vital to start financial education at a young age.”

Googolplex is a youth-focused element of CUNA’s onlineEDGE program, which guides credit union members through financial decisions at every stage of life. Googolplex features interactive games, videos, blogs and other content dealing with money matters and real life issues to promote financial literacy for youth aged 6-18.

Youth editorial board members complete two brief online critiques each month of stories and games in age-specific sections of Googolplex’s award-winning three-in-one website. At the end of their terms, each of the 12 board members writes an original story forGoogolplex.

  • Four elementary school-aged students will serve on the Clubhouse Crew for 5-Spot.
  • Four middle school-aged students make up the Super Youth Team for AJ’s.
  • Four high-school-aged students will be on the Teenage Panel advising C-Note.

“Our youth board members provide us with feedback that ensures that their peers feel welcome and validated whenever they use Googolplex on their credit union’s website,” says Susan Tiffany, CCUFC, director of consumer periodicals.

Board members must be in grades 3-12 in the fall of 2012 or, if home-schooled, of the same grade-level ages, and will work from home. Applications are available by request from Corey Pratt, Googolplex youth editorial board liaison. Please state the child’s grade level or age equivalent if home-schooled. Requests are due by February 6, 2012.

To learn more about how Googolplex and other onlineEDGE tools benefit both credit unions and their members, visit http://www.cuna.org/onlineedge and http://www.cuna.org/finlit/gplex.html.


347 Credit Union Financial Counselors Earn CUNA Credit Union Financial Counselor Certification in 2011

Posted by on Tuesday, 13 December, 2011

MADISON, Wis. (December 13, 2011) – CUNA is proud to announce that 347 credit union financial counselors, from 38 states and 175 credit unions, have earned their CUNA Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC) Certification in 2011. This certificate was created by CUNA in an effort to help credit union financial counselors stay up-to-date with the latest counseling techniques and ensure credit union members are receiving informed and relevant financial advice. 

The CUNA Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC) Certificate will continue to be offered in 2012 and can be earned after successfully completing exams associated with one of the following tracks:

  1. Attend the CUNA Certified Financial Counselor Schools June 11-14, 2012 in Austin, Texas and achieve certification onsite by successfully completing both Part 1 and Part 2 of the CUNA Certified Financial Counselor Schools and pass each qualifying exam.
  2. Receive certification through the Credit Union Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP), a self-study financial counseling certification program. Modeled after the CUNA Certified Financial Counselor Schools, FiCEP includes two parts of four learning modules each. CCUF certification is received upon successful completion of the proctored exams for both parts (eight total modules).

For more information about how to earn CUNA Certified Financial Counselor Certification, visit training.cuna.org/ficep  for FiCEP or training.cuna.org/cfcs for Certified Financial Counselor Schools.


CUNA Announces Winners of the 2011 Desjardins Awards for Financial Education

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 November, 2011

MADISON, Wis. (November 21, 2011) – CUNA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2011 Desjardins Awards for Youth and Adult Financial Education.  Entries from more than 30 states yielded 10 winners, along with several honorable mentions, in two categories.  All of these organizations will be recognized during a reception at CUNA’s 2012 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), March 18-22, 2012, in Washington, D.C. 

The Desjardins Awards are named for Alphonse Desjardins, the founder of the North American credit union movement, and honors credit unions for their commitment to youth and adult financial literacy.

“We congratulate this year’s winners and honorable mentions for their admirable work educating youth and adults about financial education skills,” says Vikki Kinsler, CUNA’s program coordinator for the Desjardins Awards.  “Credit unions, chapters and leagues from more than 30 states applied for the award, which shows the movement’s increasing commitment to this type of service for members.”

CUNA added the Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award in 2011 to its well-established Youth Award to recognize credit unions’ efforts to teach personal finance concepts and skills to members and non-members age 18 and older.  This change brings all personal finance education activities under the Desjardins name, including the award for leagues.  CUNA received 30 entries in the Adult category in addition to the 55 entries received for the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award.

“Part of the mission of credit unions is to promote thrift among our members,” says Bill Cheney, President and CEO of CUNA.  “Financial education is a key component of accomplishing this mission–it’s good for the members and differentiates credit unions from other financial institutions.”

Recipients were recently chosen from among the state-winning entries by CUNA’s national awards committee.

Winners for the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award include (asterisks indicate repeat winners):

  • A+ Federal Credit Union – Austin, TX*
  • Community Credit Union – Lewiston, ME
  • CORE Federal Credit Union – East Syracuse, NY
  • Credit Union Association of New York*
  • Service 1stFederal Credit Union – Danville, PA

Honorable mentions include:

  • Altra Federal Credit Union – Onalaska, WI*
  • Arapahoe Credit Union – Centennial, CO*
  • Beach Municipal Federal Credit Union – Virginia Beach, VA*
  • Greater Minnesota Credit Union – Mora, MN*
  • Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union – Knoxville, TN
  • Maine Credit Union League*
  • Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union – Columbia, SC*
  • Public Service Credit Union – Romulus, MI
  • Virginia Educators Credit Union – Newport News, VA*

Winners for the Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award include:

  • CommunityAmerica Credit Union – Kansas City, MO
  • Community Credit Union – Lewiston, ME
  • Financial Fitness Greater Austin Credit Union Facilitators – Austin, TX
  • Greater Minnesota Credit Union – Mora, MN*
  • Latino Community Credit Union – Durham, NC

Honorable mentions include:

  • Credit Union 1 – Anchorage, AK*
  • Denver Community Credit Union – Denver, CO*
  • Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union – Columbia, SC*
  • Patelco Credit Union – Pleasanton, CA
  • Tinker Federal Credit Union – Oklahoma City, OK*

In December, PDFs of the winning entries will be available for viewing on CUNA’s website. The actual winning entries will be on display at CUNA’s 2012 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), March 18-22, 2012, in Washington, D.C. All winners and honorable mentions will be recognized during a March 21 reception at the conference.


Use Social Media to Engage Members, Get Them to Your Website

Posted by on Friday, 29 July, 2011

Michelle Dosher

From Michelle Dosher:

Traditional communication channels and marketing campaigns may no longer be enough to grab members’ attention. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—just a few of the social media tools available to your credit union—can help promote the online personal finance products your credit union offers. Posting a product link on your credit union’s home page is a great first step in driving member traffic back to your website. Using social media tools is a great next step in engaging members with your products.

Posting pulls in members

Hughes FCU in Tucson, Ariz., drives traffic to its website by posting article and blog links from onlineEDGE publications—Home & Family Finance Resource Center®, MoneyMix™, Googolplex®, Plan It™, Anytime Adviser®, and El Poder es Tuyo™—on its Facebook page (search “Hughes Credit Union”). These posts link directly to the articles within the onlineEDGE publication featured.

Hughes FCU draws members from Facebook to MoneyMix on its website.

“We post links to onlineEDGE articles on Facebook because it helps us with our lifestyle marketing,” says Kathy Hippensteel, marketing manager at Hughes FCU. “We use Facebook because it allows us to have interactive communication with our members.” The credit union receives quite a few comments and “likes” about the posted articles. Since Hippensteel’s social media coordinator posts articles from different CUNA consumer publications, there is information posted for each target market. “The best thing about the products and about posting information about the products on Facebook is that it ties in with our goal of making a positive difference in members’ financial lives,” Hippensteel says.

Educators CU promotes a Youth Week activity.

The credit union also posts links to onlineEDGE information on Twitter, such as posting a link to remind members that they can win Visa gift cards by participating in the Resource Center’s Financial Fitness Challenge.

Getting started in social media

When using social media, credit unions should do the following, according to CUNA’s 2011-2012 Credit Union Environmental Scan:

  • Allocate proper time and resources
  • Have a social media strategy
  • Define goals and objectives
  • Set proper expectations
  • Set a realistic budget

Hippensteel concludes that, if possible, it’s important for credit unions to have someone on staff dedicated to working on social media marketing. “Social media is another way to keep members informed about what your credit union is offering,” she points out.

Michelle Dosher is a managing editor in CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance. This article originally appeared in CUNA’s Connection newsletter.


CUNA Intern Published in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 December, 2010

We have very talented and dedicated staff working for America’s credit unions here at CUNA. Our interns are no exception.

In fact, one of our Editorial Interns, Casey Mysliwy, was published in the December 2010 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Casey helps produce material for CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance web publications such as Home and Family Finance Resource Center and MoneyMix: Launch Your Life.

We know how talented she is, and we are very excited that a respected and established personal finance periodical such as Kiplinger’s recognizes her talents as well. Casey’s success is a testament of her talents and reflects the expertise of CUNA staff.

Watch this video to learn more about Casey’s article, and take a moment to read the article online.


Undergrads Want Financial Education – What’s Your Credit Union Waiting For?

Posted by on Monday, 30 August, 2010

Some of the funniest commercials have aired during back-to-school season, like this one from Office Max (my favorite part is the lollipop switched for a magnifying glass).

But while many students roll their eyes at these commercials, others are scratching their heads wondering how the final set of CARD Act rules–which went into effect on August 22nd–will affect their credit accounts.

It’s my opinion that this is a perfect opportunity for credit unions to reach young adults and help them with financial education.  Why?

  1. The CARD Act is arguably the most important financial change to impact this demographic.
  2. Young adults WANT to learn how to better manage their money. According to a recent study by Sallie Mae, 84% of undergraduates said they needed more financial education.
  3. Credit unions that use financial education to guide young adults through these confusing times will gain their loyalty in return.

It’s that second point that’s most interesting… the average undergraduate senior leaves college with $4,100 in credit card debt AND wishes they had known more about managing credit and their finances. That’s where credit unions can make an impact with this demographic; by providing the desired financial education using relevant communication channels.

This is the main reason I’m psyched about my role here at CUNA. I get to help credit unions provide valuable financial information to my demographic using relevant methods such as the Web and in-person seminars.

We all know using a credit card isn’t difficult. It’s HOW to use a credit card that gets tricky. And that’s what I wanted to convey to folks my age with the video I produced for our new Seminar In A Box aimed at those starting out in life.  (Credit 101: Do You Pass the Test will be released this fall.)

Jeremy was awesome, and very candid. I wanted him to tell his story and offer advice based on his experience with credit. Hearing that message and discussing the situation with peers goes a long way and I think it amplifies the rest of the information presented throughout the seminar.

Check out this shortened version of the video…

Jeremy shares more compelling stories in the longer version that’s sure to resonate with the intended audience… like the story about his roommate’s use of credit, his episode with collections, how his credit problems affected his college career, and some advice based on his experiences.

Now it’s your turn… am I off base? Do you think young adults are a lost cause for credit unions? Are there better ways to reach them and gain their loyalty? I have lots to say about this subject–too much for one post–so let’s keep this conversation going!


Is the Credit Union Difference Reaching Consumers?

Posted by on Wednesday, 21 July, 2010

I’m grateful for the amount of positive coverage credit unions have received as consumers search for alternative banking solutions.  It’s raised public awareness about credit unions as safe financial institutions with excellent benefits for members.

In my opinion, however, the coverage falls short in delivering the full story on why credit unions are a better option for consumers. I worry that the credit union difference—our voluntary community involvement, commitment to financial education,  service to the under-served, and so on—is becoming lost in the shuffle.

The articles I’ve read tout credit unions’ better interest rates and lower fees. Yes, these are important selling points, but they’re not the only ones that motivate people to move their money or remain loyal. We can’t lose sight of our philosophical differences—either communicating them or operating by them—even though credit unions are enjoying large scale, positive exposure.

Going beyond rates and fees is what truly separates credit unions from other financial institutions.  Sure, lower fees and better interest rates are important. They motivate a certain population. It seems to me, however, that the most loyal members are those who also identify with—and are impacted by—our credit union philosophy.

So here’s my call to action….

We need to pull at the heart strings, not just the purse strings. And we can’t rely on others to do this.

Communicate how your credit union is helping the community through press releases and letters to the editor of your local paper. Reach out to your members by participating in the community and let them know about your efforts. Share member stories and promote your financial education resources like Seminars in a Box. Make a concerted effort to enhance the member ownership experience.

These characteristics are just as important to share with the world. While positive coverage focuses on credit unions as safe alternative banking solutions with great rates and lower fees, it’s our duty to trumpet the credit union difference.