It’s that time of year again. So, what is a credit union annual meeting and do your members know enough to prepare?
Marketing your credit union’s annual meeting of membership is the difference between an active credit union community and disengaged one. But, when communicated properly, the annual meeting can be a highlight of the year, as well as a reason for members to stay and new members to join.
What is a Credit Union Annual Meeting?
If you are a member of a credit union, you should receive an annual invitation to formally meet with your fellow members. In the past, these in-person meetings were a way to bring everyone together for a mix of business and community. However, they can—and, recently, have been—virtual. (In fact, in November of 2020, the National Credit Union Administration announced new guidance on flexibility of in-person meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
Despite being invited each year, it’s possible some members have never attended these meetings. Why? Perhaps because they sound boring or too official. So, why is it important for all members to feel engaged and attend anyway?
A credit union’s annual meeting is a key part of yearly operations. Additionally, that credit unions hold these meetings at all is a major way these organizations differ from banks. In other words, this is where all members get a voice. And among the ways members can have a hand in the credit union is at the annual meeting. Here, members choose the volunteer board of directors for the credit union, hear leadership plans for the year ahead, and ask questions. In general, the annual meeting is an opportunity to listen, make your vote count, and stay updated.
Credit unions often promote their community-minded practices. In this case, having the opportunity to actually interact with the staff and management team is a clear part of that. Instead of seeing someone as a loan officer, you are seeing them as a person. And they are seeing you!
Marketing Your Annual Meeting
The annual members meeting is an important opportunity for everyone involved in the running of the credit union. As such, your credit union should do its best to market and communicate the meeting. After all, the right marketing of the annual member meeting could make a huge difference for who actually shows up.
Start by effectively communicating what the annual member meeting is, and go from there. Make it easy for members to find definitions of leadership and practice on a dedicated page of your website. Then, ensure the meeting is actively on the radar of your members. Include save-the-date reminders in each major newsletter or email going out.
As the date gets closer, amp up your communications. Schedule an official invite, with clear details about the meeting, as well as what is in it for the members. Of course, one perk is having a hand in the operation of the credit union. But it might also be worth holding a raffle for those who attend! Think about ways to market your meeting across platforms, so that no member is left uniformed. And think about ways to make it personal. Maybe some members need an extra push, so do personal outreach by phone or email to first-time members or long-time folks who haven’t made it a priority to attend.
Make Your Annual Meeting an Event
Of course, each credit union is a little different. This could come down to the community it serves or the mission at its heart. The atmosphere depends on the credit union itself, and transitioning to a virtual meeting can present unique barriers. If holding an in-person meeting, your credit union might welcome members with a small gift, refreshments, and interactive activities to break the ice. These are all perks of being part of a credit union. It’s a time for community!
However, if your CU does need to be flexible, there are also opportunities to connect with members in a virtual setting, and perhaps even lower barriers that would have kept people from attending in years past. Time away from work or the home can be difficult for some folks. Depending on non-traditional work schedules, the need to arrange for family care, or find travel, accessing an in-person meeting might not be so easy. While meeting in person can drive close connections, being flexible also signals a willingness to care for your community.
If your credit union is transitioning to hosting a virtual membership meeting or a hybrid event, keep the focus on providing for members. (And make sure you continue to follow NCUA practices!) Consider the experience of each person. Instead of handing out gifts, it could be a matter of mailing a special something before or after. Additionally, think about virtual grab-bags, like a social media filter or downloadable Zoom background. These can help everyone have a shared experience no matter where they are.
Don’t Forget Thank You!
An annual meeting for a credit union is part of yearly operations. It’s special, yet also routine. In some ways, it’s like a holiday for your credit union. So, just as you would prepare for a special occasion, do so here. In the weeks and months leading up to your event, make and share your plans. Then, follow-up once the meeting is over. Get in touch with members to share a recap and major announcements. Also, don’t forget to thank your members for being part of the meeting and showing up! Comprehensive marketing—before, during, and after—will encourage members to make it a date next year, too.