The Pulse 10-13-16

Volume 5, Issue 41.5



Governor Dayton Declares Monday, Oct. 10 Plus It Forward Day; More than 1,000 Credit Union Volunteers Participate in Acts of Kindness

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton declared Monday, Oct. 10, Plus It Forward Day across the state of Minnesota.

In his proclamation, Dayton noted that “Minnesota’s credit unions demonstrate a unique ability to collaborate, cooperate, and leverage their resources and passion to make great things possible.”

Statewide, more than 25 credit unions participated in the day initiated and coordinated by Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union.

Together, an estimated 1,200 credit-union volunteers assisted nearly 22,000 people in 65 communities statewide by building and repairing; cleaning and organizing; cooking and serving; thanking and sharing small gifts.

“Plus It Forward Day is simple: We are intentional about doing good for other people,” said Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union president/CEO Dave Larson. “Each year we step away from our day-to-day routines and engage the community beyond the walls of our credit unions. As we do, we remind ourselves that being kind is a simple, but profound, act. Kindness can change someone’s day. It can change a life.”

“Affinity Plus founded Plus It Forward Day in 2013, timed to the federal Columbus Day holiday,” Larson said. Instead of a day off, Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union employees spent eight hours volunteering in their communities across Minnesota.


Four Minnesotans named 2016 CU Rock Stars by Credit Union Magazine

The Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Credit Union Magazine has revealed the 2016 Credit Union Rock Stars, a collection of credit union professionals and volunteers selected for their outstanding innovations, service and achievements.

“We congratulate this year’s Credit Union Rock Stars, whose outstanding contributions to their credit unions have inspired us,” said Ann Peterson, CUNA vice president and Credit Union Magazine editor-in-chief. “Our Rock Stars’ diverse achievements and backgrounds should serve as a reminder of the endless ways to make an impact on your credit union.”

The 2016 Credit Union Rock Stars include:

Representing 28 states, the 2016 Credit Union Rock Stars encompass a wide range of fields, including marketing, lending, operations, strategic planning and video production. Colleagues and peers nominated the Credit Union Rock Stars, and a panel of credit union industry veterans selected the winners.

Each of the 49 winners will be profiled in this month’s special issue of Credit Union Magazine, sponsored by Fiserv.




WINcentive® Savings Featured on Front Page of Star Tribune

On Monday, WINcentive® Savings, the prize-linked savings program facilitated by the Minnesota Credit Union Network and powered by MnIPC, was featured on the front page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.


“WINcentive Savings is growing awareness about the credit union difference and strengthening relations with existing members,” said Minnesota Credit Union Network Director of Communications Andrea Molnau. “Being featured in Minnesota’s largest newspaper is a testament to the potential reach and positive impact of the program.”


Below is the full article text:


Retiree Lois Ninnemann likes to belly up to the penny slots at the casino. The thrill of a big jackpot is a big reason she goes.


When she learned she could win cash prizes by opening a risk-free savings account at her South St. Paul credit union and stash away as little as $25 a month, she was all in. In June she won $1,000 and became one of more than 400 Minnesota credit union members who have split $51,000 in cash prizes simply for saving this year through the new WINcentive Savings Program.


The savings program might seem like a playful sales gimmick at first glance. But credit union leaders who have partnered with Boston-based nonprofit Commonwealth say research shows it’s addressing a serious national savings crisis.


Forty-six percent of Americans don’t have cash or savings to readily pay for a $400 emergency expense, according to a report issued by the Federal Reserve. One in three households reported having no savings at all, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.


“There are a lot of forces at work to help us consume and spend. The amount of energy devoted to saving is relatively modest,” said Tim Flacke, executive director at Commonwealth, a nonprofit that promotes financial security. “One function of living that close to the edge is it takes something special to get people excited and focused on saving. This gives them something to be excited about.” 


Minnesota credit unions and Commonwealth lobbied legislators last year to change banking laws to allow the savings incentive program, which launched in January.


The idea is partly rooted in the United Kingdom’s Premium Bonds, a savings program in which monthly prize drawings determine the interest rate.

The promise of a potential prize makes people better savers, Flacke said. Americans spend $70 billion on lottery tickets each year, and Minnesotans spent an estimated $1.5 billion on charitable gaming last year.


“The core idea is that lotteries and prizes have always been powerful forces in shaping human behavior,” he said.


Good odds 

The 14 participating Minnesota credit unions opened 3,536 WINcentive saving accounts this year through Aug. 31, with deposits totaling $2 million. The median account balance is $300.


“It teaches people to put a little aside every month to create that savings habit,” said Andrea Molnau, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Credit Union Network. “Even if they don’t win any of the drawings, they’ve still won because they’ve created a nest egg or an emergency savings account.”


To be eligible to win, account holders must deposit at least $25 a month. Participants can save as much as $100 a month to get four chances to win.


“That’s what is attractive to us. We can tool it to anybody’s budget,” said Dana Garrett, president of North Memorial Federal Credit Union. “You look at $25. That is a couple of missed lattes each month.”


Prizes are plentiful: There are 50 $100 winners each month, 20 $1,000 winners each year and a $5,000 annual grand prize. Savers can win more than once. 


The catch is that if you withdraw from the account more than twice a year, you’re out of the program. The idea is to allow for an emergency withdrawal while discouraging customers from adopting a save-and-spend cycle.


Garrett said that some of her customers who work at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale opt to have $12.50 automatically withdrawn from their paychecks and moved into savings.


“When you break it up into something as small as $12.50 in your net paycheck, you don’t even miss it,” she said.


When someone wins a prize, the word-of-mouth promotion persuades others to participate in the program.


Emergency cash 

“I couldn’t believe it. I was just really excited about the whole thing,” said Ninneman, who picked up her prize money and a ceremonial oversized check at Wakota Federal Credit Union.


But as much fun as it is to celebrate a prize winner, Garrett said she sees firsthand the need to teach financial literacy and savings habits.


“We have folks who are in need of tires ahead of the winter season and they don’t have money,” she said. “We have people who have a furnace or water heater go out and they don’t have the money to fix it. We’ve done loans for as small as $500. We have folks truly in dire need.”


But being a better saver isn’t just about staving off crisis. Credit is tight, so people looking to buy homes and other big-ticket items will need to save first.


“The regulations have changed so much since the housing crisis. It’s a lot more difficult to get a mortgage these days,” said Amanda Kissner, director of community affairs at Wakota Credit Union. She said many people walk in with a salary that will cover a mortgage payment, but they lack good credit or enough for a down payment. 


The biggest hurdle with WINcentive is talking some customers through the rules that limit withdrawals.


“A lot of people in our area live paycheck to paycheck. It’s hard to commit to that $25 a month. After they do save a little bit, a lot of our members notice the benefit,” Kissner said.


Ninnemann, 80 and a retired secretary, said she’s a good saver now but remembers how tight times were when she had two growing boys at home.


“I know what a struggle it was for my husband and me when they were young. There is just nothing left over at the end of the pay period,” she said. “The way to do it is to save right at the beginning.”


If you would like more information, or would like to set up a meeting to discuss incorporating WINcentive Savings into your credit union plans for 2017, contact Ryan Smith by email or by phone at (651) 288-5533.




Credit union professionals are encouraged to join their peers at the upcoming Minnesota Credit Union Network Peer-to-Peer (P2P) meetings.

A full list of upcoming P2P sessions can be found on the MnCUN calendar online. Please note, the Life Simulation will be taking the place of the fall Crew and Financial Educators P2P sessions.



MnCUF, U of M Ext. Partnering to Offer BizKid$ Train the Trainer Workshop

The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation (MnCUF) has collaborated with the University of Minnesota Extension to develop a statewide Biz Kid$ Train the Trainer workshop. Biz Kid$ is a financial literacy initiative that includes an award winning TV series, free financial literacy curriculum, outreach activities, a website and a social media presence targeting children 9 – 16 years old. Its focus is to help kids make and manage money. The program is supported by a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF).

Extension educators will be partnering with their community organizations focused on youth financial education to present Biz Kid$ curriculum to the organization’s front-line staff, and to a youth audience from different demographic backgrounds across the state of Minnesota.

MnCUF is inviting credit unions to participate in the first Train the Trainer webinar on Friday, Oct. 28 from 1 to 3 p.m. The Foundation is also seeking credit union partners interested in partnering with U of M Extension coordinators to offer the Biz Kid$ program in communities across the state.   

Registration for the Oct. 28 webinar is available online until Oct. 21. Prior to the event date, credit union registrants will receive webinar connection information.

With questions, contact Minnesota Credit Union Foundation Executive Director, Lyndsay Miller.


Minnesota Credit Union Foundation announces financial education grant awards

The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation (MnCUF) recently awarded seven financial education grants to assist credit unions in Minnesota with implementing financial education projects.

The following are the fall 2016 Financial Education Grant recipients and projects:

  • Through a collaboration with Junior Achievement and Como Park High School’s Academy of Finance Program, Hiway Federal Credit Union is supporting the creation of a school store via a portable kiosk. Hiway will serve as the company program mentor and assist students through learning the corporate aspects of running the store.
  • In partnership with Lutheran Social Services and North Woods Community Education, North Star Credit Union will host community financial wellness classes on a variety of topics free and open to all members of the community throughout 2017.
  • Royal Credit Union will put on “Test Drive…Next Stop Reality” at Eden Prairie High School, an experiential learning event where students select a career, research the education needed to enter that career, the resulting salary and then assigned a “life” with that career choice.
  • SPIRE Credit Union, in conjunction with Elk River High School’s DECA program, are developing a financial literacy education program for their fellow students - called Future Finance Academy - that will be offered to up to 200 students to attend as a special class during their lunch period.
  • United Educators Credit Union will host two upcoming seminars. In collaboration with Lutheran Social Services and Project Friendship (a non-profit that assists families in crisis), will host a lunch and learn teaching money management skills to a group of women and providing the book, “Lipstick on the Piggy Bank.” In another seminar, they will collaborate with Lutheran Social Services and the Minnesota Dept. of Commerce to host a fraud and elder abuse prevention workshop.
  • Wakota Federal Credit Union, as part of their financial education initiatives for 2017, will offer interactive financial education resources for both youth and adults on tablets in their lobby, available to any visitor to explore.

The Foundation Board of Directors evaluates applications based on a variety of factors, including credit union value, community impact, collaboration, and creativity. Non-credit union organizations may also apply for grant funding, but must partner with a Minnesota credit union and demonstrate how the project will impact credit unions, their members, and the larger community.

For more information, including prior grant recipients, see the MnCUF financial education grant webpage

Minnesota Credit Union Network
555 Wabasha Street N, Suite 200
St. Paul, MN 55102

(651) 288-5170
(800) 477-1034