As financial institutions look to better-implement their brand footprint in the communities they serve, increasing importance is placed on community involvement. This isn’t old-school community involvement where you could get away with having a table or booth at an event with a couple of passive employees handing out flyers. Community involvement that works well in 2017 is defined much more by proactive, deeper-level meaningful interaction between bank or credit union staff and the populations they serve.

A terrific example of this comes from Denver Community Credit Union (Denver, CO; $315 million assets; 25,000 members). In its quest for community involvement, Denver Community focuses on a number of key areas including financial education and a heightened awareness of the brand.

“Since Denver Community implemented a financial education program in 2005, it has reached tens of thousands of people with the message of financial empowerment,” said Helen Gibson, VP of Marketing and Education. “In 2016, 2,395 people attended classes at the credit union, listened to podcasts, or participated in financial coaching.”

Helen Gibson

Helen Gibson

Denver Community invests in financial education as a differentiator in its market and sees a definite return on investment. “In 2016, 85 membership leads, 89 loan leads, and 224 additional products and services were gained that are directly tied to the work of our community relations coordinator,” Gibson added. “It is believed that many more members and products are gained through the branding activities of the coordinator, but they can be difficult to track due to confidentiality of participants in partner organizations.” In fact, the Denver Community program won an award in 2014 for its community impact from the Mountain West CU Foundation. This video details the program in-depth and shows the impact on members and the greater community. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBz9qb6sOE0

However, Denver Community does more than financial education in its community. It also continues to evolve its staff training to include financial education. “In February 2017, our community relations coordinator presented an abridged version of our Money Makeover class for our staff,” Gibson noted. “Measured results indicate that in the time period before the class, staff opened on average 6.4 accounts every ten days. After the training, this boosted to an average of 10.0 accounts every ten days.”

“In addition, the types of accounts opened after the training directly tied to the content of the class,” Gibson elaborated. “This type of personal behavior change impacts member service because our staff understand how to guide members to deepen their relationship with the credit union and advance members’ financial futures.”

Denver Community involvement with its populace also reaches beyond financial education. “In 2014, Denver Community began a program with a non-profit partner advertising on Facebook,” Gibson said. “Denver Community pays the non-profit to boost a post that is co-branded, and the non-profit uses a portion of the payment for unrestricted income. Facebook statistics show that the non-profit gains likes and engagement from the carefully crafted post.”

Key Takeaways: The community involvement lessons here from Denver Community Credit Union are many. For example, the ability to quantify your community involvement is critical. Gibson offers a number of quantifiable metrics (number of class attendees, accounts opened before and after training, etc.). Staff education is also critical. Finally, creating partnerships on social media with complementary non-profit entities is also a solid example from which other financial institutions can learn.

Denver Community continues to expand its community involvement programs that give the credit union an ability to demonstrate clarity of message, consistency, and constancy within its target markets at an affordable price. This type of involvement is also invaluable when it comes to strength of brand, market and wallet share.