The Pulse (09-04-13)


The Pulse (09-04-13)

Sept. 4, 2013 ● Volume 02, Issue 35


The Pulse Archive

Credit Union News

Foundation Fridays to raise cash for worthy causes

Credit unions, don’t forget about Foundation Fridays this fall! The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation is introducing this unique fundraiser to help raise awareness for the Foundation and its committees – Minnesota Credit Unions for Kids (MnCU4Kids) and the Minnesota Family Involvement Council (FIC).

During October, credit unions can designate one Friday (or several) as a Foundation Friday. On this day, tellers and call center staff will conclude each member interaction by asking for a contribution to help support financial education, college scholarships and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare. At the end of the month, credit unions can forward all donations to the Foundation, to be split evenly between the Foundation general fund, MnCU4Kids and the FIC. It’s that simple!

Below is a brief explanation of the work of the Foundation and its committees.

  • The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation is an organization that provides the resources for credit unions and communities to prosper and thrive. Foundation grants are focused on financial education, professional development and disaster relief efforts that aid the credit union movement in Minnesota and beyond. (
  • The Minnesota Family Involvement Council works to provide credit unions with financial awareness solutions. The FIC conducts an annual scholarship program, awarding funds to Minnesota credit union members to help advance their college education. This endeavor is made possible through its annual Silent Auction. (
  • Minnesota Credit Unions for Kids is a collaboration of credit unions, chapters, leagues and business partners engaged in fundraising activities to benefit Children’s Miracle Network-affiliate hospitals. All money raised through Minnesota’s Credit Unions for Kids program supports Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, which helps kids with disabilities and chronic conditions. Gillette is based in St. Paul, with clinics located around the state. (

Each participating credit union will receive a turnkey toolkit including how-to information, sample press releases, lobby posters and more! To sign up for Foundation Fridays now, send your name, credit union, phone number and email address to

Minn. CUs modify annual meetings to better meet members' needs

As the credit union industry evolves and places a heavy emphasis on attracting the next generation of borrowers and savers, many credit unions are using an old channel in a new way to position themselves as creative, contemporary financial institutions.

According to the Federal Credit Union Act, every credit union’s bylaws require an annual meeting. But just because they’re required by law and Minnesota credit unions have been holding annual meetings for 80+ years doesn’t mean it has to be a conventional event.

The following three Minnesota credit unions have strategically modified their annual meetings to meet the changing needs of their membership.

  • Among the most radical of changes is SPIRE Federal Credit Union. This $596 million credit union in the Twin Cities welcomed a record-setting number of members – nearly 2,000 – to its Annual Meeting & Member Appreciation Day in February 2013, its third year of coordinating the annual event with a unique twist. The attendance represents a 40 percent jump from 2012, and a 1,300 percent increase from 2009.

SPIRE President & CEO Dan Stoltz leads the hour-long meetings, providing broad education about SPIRE, the credit union difference, and discussing economic trends. SPIRE’s 2013 meeting also incorporated a motivational keynote from Devon Harris, former Jamaican Bobsled Team member.

As for the cash, SPIRE is the first credit union in the country to incentivize annual meeting attendees. According to SPIRE, it’s the credit union’s "strong overall financial picture” that has allowed them to provide a $25 cash payment to all attendees.

"We had a record year – record new members, record checking accounts,” President & CEO Dan Stoltz said in a press release from the credit union. "We wanted to find a new way to share our message and to give back to our members, providing them with an experience that’s both informational and inspirational.”

  • With declining attendance at its traditional annual meeting, NorthRidge Community Credit Union decided it was time for a change. The $35 million institution made its first move toward a format change a few years ago, attempting barbeque-style annual meetings at the city park pavilion. However, with continued low attendance, NRCCU moved ahead with a complete overhaul in 2013.

  • With credit union offices in three cities across north central Minnesota’s "Iron Range,” NorthRidge converted its annual meeting to a weeklong celebration, involving all branches and staff in drawings, decorations and member education. NRCCU’s staff primarily focused on educating members – reminding them that they’re owners of the institution, and therefore eligible to help direct the future of the credit union by serving on the board and supervisory committees.

    "We want to make sure that our members know what it means to be a part of the credit union – especially our young members,” said Winnie Koivisto, NVCCU VP of Accounting & Finance. "We received a lot of really good comments from our members, and hopefully in the next year we’ll get some new people interested in being involved with the credit union.”

    NorthRidge also made its annual report available to all members who visited during the week, which provided increased exposure, and rounded out their celebration with an evening business meeting.

    "Overall, we were able to reach a lot more people,” Koivisto said, as NRCCU continues to build on this year’s success at next year’s event.

  • At Minnesota Power Employees Credit Union in Duluth, it’s the little things that make the difference. MPECU has created a hybrid between the traditional and modern annual meeting formats, infusing its event with formality, practicality and innovation.
  • To draw a crowd for its annual meeting, the $85 million credit union goes the extra mile to remind members that they are the owners of the institution, mailing personalized invitations. To maximize effectiveness, MPECU draws attendees together for a social hour prior to the meeting, conducts all official credit union business in under a half hour, and wraps its annual event with a formal dinner.

MPECU also incorporated an innovative incentive to attract young adults to its event: child care. Staff hires two of its members who are teachers to provide kids’ activities and games, offered as a service to parents with young children. Once the business meeting concludes, they join their parents for dinner with a special a kids’ meal and gift bag as a "thank you” for their participation.


"Even though the meeting is in February and we have a lot of snow birds out of town for the winter, we really have a good attendance,” said Nancy Hutchinson, MPECU Vice President of Marketing. "It’s great to see the young families that participate – they are the future of the credit union.”

JOIN IN: Filene launches pilot project to test innovative CU products

In a recent blog post, Filene announced that it is launching an accessible financial services incubator to benefit underbanked consumers. This project, made possible with the help of a $700,000, 30-month grant from the Ford Foundation, will test, package, and scale innovative, viable financial products that aid low-and-moderate-income consumers and provide alternatives to predatory products.

As part of this project, Filene is looking for forward-thinking credit unions to test potential products, and organizations willing to submit their innovative products, for an 18-month pilot, beginning in November.

"Mainstream financial institutions consistently fail to improve access for these vulnerable persons to affordable credit and other essential financial products,” said Mark Meyer, CEO of Filene. "Consequently, alternative financial services providers have ample opportunity to exploit underbanked individuals.”

Filene said it plans to test, package and deliver viable financial products through the incubator’s three discrete phases:

  • The lab – testing promising product ideas
  • The factory – manufacturing innovations and packaging products for mass adoption
  • The marketplace – distributing products through in-person and open-source online marketing

The blog post said the incubator will use credit unions as the proving ground for innovative products to test their viability with mainstream financial institutions. An advisory panel of financial institution staff, researchers, and industry analysts will ensure the viability of the selection, testing, and marketing of the incubator’s product ideas.

Credit unions interested in applying to test potential incubator products may apply by submitting the form on the Call for Credit Unions page of the Filene website. Organizations with potential products may fill out a Product Developer Application.

Good works by CUs make "Unite for Good," ICU Day come alive

The credit union world is full of stories where credit unions have made life better by sharing their "people helping people” tradition and making a difference. But many people still aren't aware of all the things that credit unions do.

That’s why the Credit Union National Association and state leagues created the "Unite for Good” campaign, and have set "Unite for Good” as the theme for this year’s International Credit Union (ICU) Day on Oct. 17. The Network, along with CUNA, want credit unions to share their stories and show how they bring value to their members and their communities. The hope is that sharing your stories and promoting and adopting the "Unite for Good” message will accomplish three key initiatives.

  • Building awareness
  • Fostering service excellence
  • Helping consumers choose credit unions as their best financial partner

So, join credit unions around the world on Thursday, Oct. 17 for International Credit Union Day and spread the theme of "Credit Unions Unite for Good." Help spread the powerful credit union values and the advantages that result from the unique collaborative spirit embodied by credit unions to better serve members. Sharing and celebrating these differences raises awareness for and reinforces the message that credit unions are the best financial partners.

For more information on this year's ICU Day event and what you can do to promote it at your credit union, visit theInternational Credit Union Day page of the Network website. Credit unions are also encouraged to continue spreading the ongoing "Unite for Good” initiative. The main goals of this campaign are to reach 55 million members who have designated credit unions as their PFI, and a total financial value of $20 billion by 2023. To learn more, go to the Unite for Good page of the Network website. Also, please fill out the News Submission form on the Network website to share examples of the social good your credit union is doing.

Credit Unions in the News ...

Follow the links on the stories below to read more about the outstanding programs, new initiatives and well-deserved recognition received by your peers in recent weeks. Got news of your own? Send stories, pitches, press releases and published articles to MnCUN Director of Communications Connie Kuhn.

  • US Federal Credit Union President/CEO Bill Raker is named to the AccountAbility Minnesota Board of Directors … more
  • Royal Credit Union Board of Directors Treasurer John Sackett will begin participating in CUNA board meetings … more
  • TopLine Federal Credit Union hires Dan Schultz as its new Director of Training … more
  • SPIRE Federal Credit Union is mentioned in a blog for its use of creative branding and strategic partnerships to restore financials and reconnect with the community … more

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