Capturing the heart of millennials: How community-focused is your credit union?

Originally published on CU Insight

The millennial generation (77 million strong and growing) is significantly different from their predecessors, the Baby Boomers (ages 51-64) and Generation X (ages 39-50) in terms of what they look for when choosing a company to do business with whether it be a financial institution, or any other type of business. Credit unions have the opportunity to capture the loyalty of this generation, their children, and their networks, but this is a group many institutions are struggling to attract.

Millennials are driven by community-focused causes. Due to their relatively short time in the workforce and inability to donate large sums of money to charities and non-profit organizations, they express their support and appreciation for causes in a different way than older generations. The findings below from Nielsen’s 2014 “Millennials- Breaking the Myths” will give you a snapshot of the characteristics, drivers, and ways your credit union can best capture the heart of this generation.

  • 75% make financial gifts of less than $100 to a non-profit
  • 71% raise money on behalf of a non-profit
  • 57% volunteer their time with a non-profit or charity group
  • Roughly 75% report sharing information on events or other activities from a non-profit on Facebook
  • Almost 70% have shared statistics and other information on their favorite causes or non-profits on social networking sites

The amount of time, money and effort millennials put into endorsing, promoting, and paying it forward to community-focused causes and social impact campaigns make them the most philanthropic generation yet. The use of Facebook and other social networking sites is a reflection of their 24-7 connectivity to their peers and the world around them. While many credit unions are struggling to gain the loyalty of this unique population, there are a few examples of institutions that are capturing the heart of this group remarkably well.

Credit Union 1 of Alaska is doing a superb job of relating to millennials not only through their community-focused mission, but also through their unique use of social media to publicize and promote their efforts. Every year the credit union engages its entire membership to raise funds for non-profits for its “One for All Alaska Fund.” In 2013 the credit union raised and donated over $36,000 to help fight childhood hunger and employees volunteered over 3,000 hours all over the state. Credit Union 1 also accepts proposals from members for corporate giving and donated a total of $195,000 into the local community in 2013.

Not only are these numbers impressive, but so is the means by which Credit Union 1 promotes and shares the opportunities to give and their mission. For example, posted on their website is a 2 minute promotional video featuring millennial-age employees explaining the “One for All Alaska” campaign and how to get involved. Similar videos, posts and hashtags like #CU1LUV and #OneforAll are plastered all over their Facebook page and Twitter account. Millennial-age employees and volunteers wearing credit union merchandise are pictured on their website presenting gift cards and other donated items to local community members.

Warren Federal Credit Union serves as another exemplary instance of how to connect with the millennial generation through their Do Gooders Unite campaign. Launched in July 2014, the campaign offered to donate $10,000 to a local downtown beautification project if 200 new members signed up for accounts. Warren FCU relied on grassroots techniques to promote the campaign with booths at farmers markets and local festivals, and a strong social media presence on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #dogoodarmy. Like Credit Union 1’s use of social media to attract attention to the cause, Warren FCU’s efforts also reached millennials where they spend the most time and enabled the credit union to reach its member acquisition goals.

Millennials want their financial institution to be socially conscious and to relate to their current lifestyle utilizing their social media platforms; tools they depend on the most. Engaging in community-focused activities and meeting millennials where they spend the majority of their time will allow credit unions to not only gain the loyalty of this generation long-term, but also the loyalty of their peers, and their children. Both Credit Union 1 and Warren Federal Credit Union serve as examples of institutions that sponsor a pro-millennial environment and their strategies serve as guides to peers looking to win over this generation.

Click here to read the full article.