In an everchanging world where members have more access to your credit union than ever with virtual communication, why aren’t members attending your annual membership meetings?
Your credit union’s annual membership meeting is a chance to update your owners on the state of the credit union and for them to meet the volunteers on the board. Members find out what worked and didn’t over the last year, how the credit union’s position sits going into the next year, and much more. It’s important for members to be there and participate in the credit union.
Annual meetings from a member’s perspective
So why don’t members attend? What’s holding them back? A lack of interest, a lack of education, or something completely different? To find out, I attended annual meetings for two different credit unions and I also checked out what was available on two more credit union websites to find out what information they provided regarding their annual meeting. All in all, I examined four different credit unions to see what I could find. Here are some interesting findings:
First, I should note that both meetings I attended were done virtually. However, despite being virtual, only one credit union shared their meeting on social media for members to easily watch later. It was the shorter of the two meetings I observed, but kudos to them for putting it on social media where more members can have access. This should be a standard practice for meetings, as should including these videos and information on your website.
Your website is where your members are used to finding their information, and for most of them, it’s probably where they conduct their daily banking needs and visit the most. However, of the two credit union websites I reviewed using a thorough search for annual information, one didn’t have any information on their website. So how were their members supposed to be informed? The other credit union had over a page of information breaking down the year and providing a lot of information in a member-friendly format. If your credit union is not doing that, now’s the time to start.
In one of the meetings I attended, I was the only attendee. The nice thing however, was that not only was it virtual, but despite being the only attendee, each board member introduced themselves and provided a brief background before going through the prior minutes, committee reports, and financials. The presentation was very member-friendly and easy to keep up with. Another good example for other credit unions to follow.
Once I was at a meeting, I found the information helpful and it continued to build my confidence in my credit union. However, had I not been researching for this article, I likely wouldn’t have attended. So how can you get members to attend and be interested in the direction of your credit union? Let’s dive into a few ideas.
How can you increase participation?
First, social media and your website are key. Are you actively advertising your annual membership meeting on your website, social media, and branch marketing? As I mentioned earlier, one of the meetings I attended had absolutely no information about the meeting on their website. Did they send out marketing emails or advertise for it in their branch? If you have a member who sticks to online banking, having no information on your website means they don’t hear about it. Get the word out about your meeting through all channels and consider adding incentives for attending.
Next, make sure your members are educated and aware of their role in the credit union. If they don’t know they’re an owner, they might not think they’re even allowed to attend annual meetings, or might wonder why they should care. When was the last time your credit union held a campaign on credit union ownership? Start a campaign with each month focusing on the seven cooperative credit union principles. The same goes for your staff. Make sure your staff is informed so they can educate your members.
Speaking of staff, they’re your best asset here. When a teller or other staff member opens a new membership, they should explain what it means to be an owner, why it’s important, and provide information on your voluntary board. Maybe they’ll find a member who would want to be a board member one day! Make sure your staff is asking and encouraging members to attend the meetings as well. They should be educated on the role of owners, and discuss it with members throughout their workday. Who knows, you might find a member who had no idea the meetings even existed!
Once your annual meeting had ended, publish information about the meeting on social media, your website, and even in branch locations. Find ways to keep your members interested throughout the year. Review the Seven Cooperative Principles and integrate them into your credit union activities with members like community events and financial education. Remind members they are owners and what that means at a credit union.
Education is key!
After doing this research, I was approached from a credit union about being a junior board member, which is great, but had I not reached out as a member, would they have known about me? Start the conversation today with members and staff about being an owner. The more information you can provide your staff and members, the more they will stay engaged with your credit union and the better chance your have to build your attendance at your annual membership meeting—and maybe even gain some future board members!