Third quarter has been fruitful for Minnesota credit unions as the Minnesota Credit Union Network reports that member institutions reached an all-time high of 1.6 million members.
In addition to a variety of factors, Mark D. Cummins, Minnesota Credit Union Network President & CEO says that having a large cooperative presence within the state has helped to encourage new memberships.
“We have the most cooperatives in this state than any other state, with Wisconsin playing a close second,” Cummins explains. “People understand and are familiar with the cooperative concept, providing an easy hurdle to overcome.”
Cummins adds that Minnesota credit unions have done an exceptional job marketing and promoting membership in general. He says that credit unions like SPIRE and Affinity Plus have run marketing campaigns that have not only promoted membership at their credit union, but the notion of joining a credit union in general. “Efforts like this raise overall awareness,” he adds.
"For the past several years leading up to now, we've focused on growth and awareness as an organizational goal,” says Dave Larson, President and CEO of Affinity Plus. “Our Ditch Your Bank awareness campaign was a large contributor to this goal, in addition to member referrals. On average over the past two years, we've experienced an ongoing increase in new memberships, welcoming about 2,000 members a month.”
Larson says, “Typically 80% of our new members join from a referral, and this is consistent even as we put a pause on our aggressive growth plans moving into the New Year. We've recognized the stress placed on member service levels, and our attention will shift back to improving the total member experience. We believe that if our members are happy, they will tell their friends and family about Affinity Plus, and that's the kind of organization we want to promote."
Like Affinity Plus, SPIRE Credit Union (Falcon, Heights, MN) has experienced growth in members but also deposits and loans. "At SPIRE, we have seen consistent, steady growth in membership over the past few years,” Tara Graff, marketing director says. “More importantly, though, we've reached an all-time high for members with SPIRE free checking accounts, which indicates more and more Minnesotans are choosing credit unions for more than just a great rate on a car loan. They're putting us to work as their primary financial partner."
Another credit union seeing membership and product increases by the droves is Postal Credit Union (Woodbury, MN). Brian G. Sherrick, President & CEO says that his credit union saw membership numbers swell by over 1,000 between second and third quarter. “We really saw a big spike during the last quarter,” he says.
Sherrick says that approximately 70% of the credit union’s new members came from referrals. “We’ve spent a considerable amount of time working with our employees, coaching them to ask for the referral. This has been a long term strategic goal and we’ve taken a multi-dimensional approach with a focus on products.”
Although membership acquisition is important, Sherrick points out that when members join Postal Credit Union, they stay. “We started a patronage program a few years ago called our VIP Program. The more you use the credit union, the more you qualify for rewards. Rewards range from $5 to over $700, which has helped to generate more memberships.”
Cummins is optimistic for the future of credit unions within his state. “These results show that we have been successful and that consumers are choosing credit unions more and more as their trusted financial partner,” he said in a release. “As the trade association for Minnesota’s credit unions, our strategy focuses on advocating for and creating an environment where credit unions can compete and grow their market share.”
Credit unions throughout the country are adding new members every day. Find a credit union and inquire about how you can benefit from membership today.By Gina Ragusa