On July 28th, the credit union industry and all of its champions and supporters flocked to Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other platforms alike in celebration of the annual social media blitz, I Love My Credit Union Day. Participants aim to not only bring attention to all that makes credit unions special but to appreciate the staff and members who make that difference possible and to help educate the public.
According to the I Love My Credit Union Day team, the official mission of the day is “to have the credit union movement come together on this single day with the purpose of inspiring authentic and high-energy conversation about why we love our credit unions.”
In years past, the industry has managed to do just that, with thousands of participants inspiring tens of thousands of social media engagements from all around the world to share their love for credit unions.
Starting a movement
The event, now in its third year, was founded by the Illinois Credit Union League in 2021, though since inception, the event has grown and gained so much traction that it now operates under its own umbrella (though still maintained by staff from the Illinois Credit Union League).
The day was the brainchild of ICUS president and CEO Thomas Kane, who felt current marketing options via social media were either too expensive or offered little impact. He originally hoped to be able to create something that would go viral and bring attention to the industry, but after consideration, inspiration struck. Instead of attempting to create one viral post (which felt akin to catching lightning in a bottle) why not create thousands of posts on a single day that highlight credit unions and all that they are in one, big social media takeover?
“We had to tackle many questions on how best to go about it,” said Staci Hering, Director of Culture and Engagement at the Illinois Credit Union League. “We kept wondering, ‘How do we make a different kind of awareness campaign? One that’s really organic, without this paid backing behind it? How do we make it something that really comes from the heart?’”
And so, Kane and his team consisting of himself, Hering, Marketing Manager Melissa Vidito, Project Coordinator Leila Fong, and Executive Assistant Debbie Bindler aimed to do just that, and the first #ILoveMyCreditUnion Day was celebrated on July 20, 2021. The event was a roaring success with over 500 participants from the U.S., Canada, and the UK. In the two years since, the number of participants, posts, and engagements has increased, creating a lasting, worldwide impact.
Enthusiastic credit union participation
Much of the success of the event can be accredited to the ILMCU team’s commitment to creating a low barrier to entry for the day and offering constant support and tools to participants. Almost all credit unions have social media of some kind, making it easy to get involved, and they are able to contribute as much or as little as they’d like to the event.
Furthermore, the ILMCU team has a large repository of marketing materials—including countdowns to the day, credit union facts and statistics, and general ILMCU graphics—for all social media platforms available for credit unions to use for free. All that’s required of the credit union is to share one or two of these materials in the week leading up to the event, or even just one on the day, making it simple to get involved in the celebration.
“One lesson I’ve learned is to keep it simple and make it easy to overcome any objections people might have. ‘I don’t have the money, I don’t have the time, I don’t have the creativity.’” said Kane. “We tried to make it as easy as possible for people to engage in it, without expectation. I’m sure some credit unions signed up for it that didn’t end up participating and vice versa. I know there were people that participated and never signed up for it.”
However, credit unions—in true fashion—tend to go above and beyond in their support for the day. Not only do they post on social media, but they often host giveaways, contests, and events either online or in branches. To enter to win said contests and giveaways, credit unions often have members share a story from their time at the credit union or a reason they love their credit union. These testimonies can be used to help educate and inspire others to join the credit union movement.
A triumphant third year
As the festivities came to a close, the team and the industry as a whole celebrated another successful year. In the end, I Love My Credit Union Day reached nine million people and had over 30,000 engagements. Over 1,000 credit unions and organizations from all 50 U.S. states and nine countries total participated in the social media blitz, making it a resounding triumph.
As mentioned before, individual credit unions and organizations tend to host their own kinds of events, giveaways, and charitable giving during I Love My Credit Union Day, but the day as a whole is also responsible for a collective donation in the spirit of the seventh cooperative principle, Concern for Community.
“Credit unions are dedicated to helping people and the community,” said Kane. “This initiative brings our movement together to spotlight and celebrate the great work credit unions are doing for their communities and members.”
This year, the charitable giving total was over $35,000. Envisiant, co-host of the event, donated $1,000 to ten credit unions, allowing them to offer more financial support for each of their communities. On behalf of the Maine, Indiana, and Cornerstone Credit Union Leagues, Envisiant also contributed a total of $22,500 to three Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Looking to the future
The significant impact that I Love My Credit Union Day has had on the industry in short three years is nothing less than astounding, and that success is thanks to the credit unions, staff, members, and of course, the ILMCU team, who work to make the event all it can be. Looking forward, there’s little doubt the event will continue to inspire as credit unions find new ways to get involved and bring attention to the industry.
We all have a credit union story,” said Hering, “and this campaign creates an opportunity to share those stories collectively, which lengthens their reach and strengthens their impact. We love leading this initiative and are thrilled to celebrate this incredible collaborative success with everyone in the credit union movement; we’re already looking to July 26, 2024, for our next adventure and we hope all will join us!”
Credit unions and organizations interested in learning more about I Love My Credit Union Day or looking to get involved can visit the I Love My Credit Union Day website or reach out to the team.