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A New Trend: Minnesota CUs Modify Annual Meetings
ST. PAUL, HOYT LAKES and DULUTH, Minn. (8/30/13)--Many credit unions are using an old channel--annual meetings--in a new way to position themselves as creative, contemporary financial institutions, according to the Minnesota Credit Union Network.

The reason is that the credit union industry is evolving and placing a heavy emphasis on attracting the next generation of borrowers and savers, MnCUN said.

Three Minnesota credit unions have strategically modified their annual meetings to meet the changing needs of their membership.

SPIRE FCU, a $596 million asset credit union in Falcon Heights, welcomed a record-setting number of members--nearly 2,000--to its Annual Meeting and Member Appreciation Day in February, its third year of coordinating the annual event with a twist. The attendance represented a 40% jump from 2012, and a 1,300% increase from 2009.

An inspirational keynote speaker, a guaranteed one-hour time limit, and cash are the draw, MnCUN said.

SPIRE President/CEO Dan Stoltz leads the hour-long meetings, providing broad education about SPIRE and the credit union difference, and discussing economic trends.

As for the cash, SPIRE is the first credit union in the country to incentivize annual meeting attendees. It's the credit union's "strong overall financial picture" that has allowed it to provide a $25 cash payment to all attendees, according to SPIRE.

The second credit union, NorthRidge Community CU (NRCCU) in Hoyt Lakes, decided it was time for a change in the face of declining attendance at its traditional annual meeting. The $35 million institution made its first move toward a format change a few years ago, attempting barbeque-style annual meetings at the city park pavilion. However, with continued low attendance, NRCCU moved ahead with a complete overhaul in 2013.

With credit union offices in four cities across north central Minnesota's "Iron Range," NorthRidge converted its annual meeting to a weeklong celebration, involving all branches and staff in drawings, decorations and member education. NRCCU's staff primarily focused on educating members--reminding them that they're owners of the institution and therefore eligible to help direct the future of the credit union by serving on the board and supervisory committees.

At Minnesota Power Employees CU (MPECU) in Duluth, it's the little things that make the difference, said MnCUN. MPECU has created a hybrid between the traditional and modern annual meeting formats, infusing its event with formality, practicality and innovation.

To draw a crowd for its annual meeting, the $85 million credit union reminds members that they are the owners of the institution and mails personalized invitations. MPECU draws attendees together for a social hour prior to the meeting, conducts all official credit union business in under a half hour, and wraps its annual event with a formal dinner.

MPECU also incorporated an innovative incentive to attract young adults to its event: Child care. Staff hires two of its members who are teachers to provide kids' activities and games, offered as a service to parents with young children. Once the business meeting concludes, they join their parents for dinner with a special a kids' meal and gift bag as a "thank you" for their participation.
 
The credit unions modified their meetings to foster service excellence, one of the key components of the Credit Union National Association's and leagues' national Unite For Good Campaign.  The campaign works toward the strategic vision of American's choosing credit unions as their best financial partner. 
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