WASHINGTON -- A new web-based tool that can play a critical role in helping not only to tell the credit union story, but to convince more consumers nationwide to consider – and then join – a credit union was unveiled by CUNA during the Governmental Affairs Conference, Feb. 28-March 3 in Washington, D.C.
The new website – “aSmarterChoice.org” – went “live” on Feb. 28. It was developed through a partnership between CUNA and the state credit union associations (Leagues), with development and maintenance costs borne entirely by the state associations.
There is no charge for consumers or credit unions to use the website.
A key element of aSmarterChoice.org is the first, consolidated and comprehensive “credit union locater” that directs consumers to a credit union they can join, with minimal hassle and no confusion. The credit union finder will include all credit unions – regardless of their charter, affiliation, size or business models.
The website also includes basic information about credit unions, the latest “good news” about credit unions appearing in the national, regional and local news media, and much more.
The website name, aSmarterChoice.org, emphasizes the exceptional value and service credit unions provide to more than 92 million consumers today. As not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions return earnings back to their members in the form of better rates and lower fees. Independent surveys consistently rank credit unions above banks and thrifts as the institution consumers trust to look out for their best interests.
The stimulus for the project came from a task force assembled by the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL), made up of chief executives of several state associations. In their deliberations, the task force identified a key goal for the new web tool: Helping credit unions build membership.
“Over the years, credit unions have laid down a strong foundation of loyalty among their members, which is cemented by reasonably priced financial services and trust that ‘members come first,’” said Task Force Chairman Paul Gentile, president and CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League. “But as many of us know all too well, extending that foundation to non-members has been a challenge, particularly in telling them the credit union story or convincing them that a credit union is their best option for financial services.
“ASmarterChoice.org is a tool for the movement to use in driving more consumers toward credit union membership, and present to them a whole picture about credit unions,” Gentile said.
He added that a key element of the site will be its focus on consumers and their needs – not on credit union jargon and terms.
CUNA President and CEO Bill Cheney noted that a website gives the credit union movement a sustainable presence that can continually drive membership growth – without the overhead and logistical challenges that a national branding campaign can present. “New technology can give us an affordable opportunity to be as equally effective as a brand campaign,” he said.
AACUL Chairman Brett Thompson said the partnership between CUNA and the Leagues in developing and maintaining the website for credit unions to use in building memberships is a continuing example of the strength of the three-tier system of credit unions, Leagues and CUNA. “Our unity is our strength, and this project is outward sign of both,” Thompson said.