QUINCY, Mass. (9/19/08)--By “embedding itself” in the area it serves to create community awareness, and by focusing on select employee groups (SEGs) and the youth market, Quincy CU (QCU) is experiencing strong membership growth.
The $290 million asset, Quincy, Mass.-based credit union experienced 7.1% membership growth from 2006 to 2007. QCU is a community credit union that serves members and their families who live or work in Norfolk and Plymouth counties, and the town of Dorchester, Mass. This is the 10th installment of News Now's
Membership Growth series of interviews with fast-growing-membership credit unions. The series is part of an initiative of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Membership Growth Task Force. The series focuses on fast "organic" membership growth, not growth by merger or indirect loans. The task force, chaired by Dick Ensweiler, president of the Texas Credit Union League, was convened at the request of CUNA's Immediate Past Board Chair Allan Kemp McMorris. Its purpose is to investigate, report on, and encourage credit unions to embrace opportunities, techniques and processes that will increase credit unions' membership retention and growth. In 2006, QCU merged with Braintree (Mass.) Educator’s and Municipal Employees CU that had about 800 members. However, that was just a small part of QCU’s membership growth. QCU had 23,329 members as of Aug. 31, Judy Brazil, QCU vice president of marketing, told News Now
. “One of the major ways we promote QCU, in addition to the traditional print advertisement channels like radio, print and statement inserts, is to make community awareness a priority,” Brazil said. “We work with people in the area to position QCU to help with community events. We’re very visible in the community.” As an example, Brazil is on the board of the Quincy School Community Partnership organization, working with the public school system on its various issues. QCU has a good relationship with the city of Quincy and city public schools, stemming in part from the fact that until 2005, the credit union was Quincy Municipal CU, serving city employees, Brazil said. Another example of community involvement is the Quincy public schools backpack initiative in which QCU collaborated with local businesses to stuff 400 backpacks with school supplies for elementary school students. QCU paid for the backpacks and delivered them, while other businesses donated the school supplies in the backpacks. SEG awareness is another key component to QCU’s membership growth, Brazil said. “Right now we are focusing on local SEGs such as the Quincy Medical Center and the local ambulance service, so we can offer credit union membership and benefits to their employees,” she said. “We’ve hired a part-time business development specialist to help with SEGs.” QCU tries to raise awareness with SEGs by adhering to its tenet of visibility in the community. By becoming involved in events such as a cancer benefit walk, or having credit union staff visit a local homeless shelter to prepare holiday baskets, QCU tries to “go beyond just writing a check” in its support of the community, Brazil explained. “This helps our membership grow because people see us around town,” she added. “We do have a very loyal membership base and a strong word-of-mouth recommendation that helps our growth.” Youth is another major membership segment on which QCU focuses. Over the past year-and-a half, the credit union has developed two youth programs. Student Advantage targets youth ages 15-25 to help them manage money and credit to become fiscally responsible adults. The program contains a component of financial literacy, utilizing printed booklets and an online site--the Credit Union National Association’s Googolplex. QCU also introduced a First-Time Auto Buyers Program geared to help first-time buyers--namely students--learn about auto financing. Participants have to pass a quiz to show that they understand what an auto loan entails. “We also visit schools in our area to give presentations on financial literacy,” Brazil said. “We teach students how to write checks and how to handle credit cards. They always want to talk about credit cards.” QCU became a community charter in 2005 because it reasoned that to obtain new members and to sustain growth, it had to remove the restrictions of its old charter, which limited membership to only municipal workers and their families in the city of Quincy. “We realized we needed to take steps to make the charter-change happen,” Brazil said. QCU plans to open its first branch in Weymouth, Mass., in 2009. “There is significant potential to grow the credit union’s presence and to realize membership growth,” Brazil said. To contact the CUNA Membership Growth Task Force, e-mail its account at firstname.lastname@example.org