2018 Excellence in M&BD Award Winners

The awards recognize outstanding new marketing and business development approaches with potential for universal application across the industry. Without regard to asset size, a panel of judges selected winners based on strategy, process, application, and results. Representatives from the winning credit unions were present at the conference to accept their award. This year’s winners are (by category):

Community Outreach and/or Political Advocacy: Local Government Federal Credit Union, Raleigh, North Carolina, for its Development Finance Initiative (DFI), a Center of Excellence. As part of a two-pronged initiative, LGFCU partnered with the UNC School of Government (SOG) to support the creation of the Development Finance Initiative (DFI), a Center of Excellence that provides specialized finance and development expertise to guide local governments in attracting private investment for transformative projects.

The creation of the DFI – Center of Excellence, was a direct result of the national economic downturn which limited the availability of resources to underserved areas. Attracting private investment into underserved areas – small towns, rural areas or downtowns with vacant or underutilized structures was a challenge faced by communities across North Carolina. Most areas want to enhance their community's economies and aesthetics and preserve their historical and cultural assets. Few had the expertise or staff capable of preparing public and private sector financial tools to attract the funding necessary for revitalization.

The DFI Center seeks to increase the number of Public-Private partnerships; to leverage community assets, some unidentified before DFI intervention; and to foster and build relationships between local, state and regional private and public investors.

The DFI initiative has fostered relationships between local government and private entities and has helped to restore, renew and regenerate mainstreets across the state. Transformative projects require strong and dynamic partnerships between multiple stakeholders.

The DFI partners with local communities on projects that include the following: building reuse, downtown development, community development, economic development, neighborhood redevelopment and small business finance. Through this partnership, local governments have ownership of the initiative and the beneficial outcome. It is a cooperative effort with extraordinary potential for community stability and unlimited growth.

The service is available to any sized community, and the projects vary from very small to million dollar ventures.

If all projects are completed as projected, LGFCU's financial support of DFI will have seeded more than $1 billion of expected investment in North Carolina communities.

Multifaceted: MIT Federal Credit Union, Cambridge, Massachusetts, for its Challenge to Reach and Connect with Women. Our Strategic Plan for 2017 included developing new ways to reach our younger SEG population in a way that connected and gave them a fresh new image of the credit union itself. Being part of an innovative community, we need to stay at the front of experimentation and find new and exciting ways to meet the needs of our field of membership. This field of membership includes undergraduate and graduate students of MIT, as well as professors and staff of that institute. In addition, we are an active part of the Kendall Square community, a hub of innovation for the technology and biomed industry.

A Challenge to Reach and Connect with Women – When considering how best to reach this younger demographic, we felt that a focus on women would be beneficial to the credit union and the community. As our initial communication stated: Considering that in our community we're surrounded by tech savvy professionals, high paying jobs and the best and the brightest when it comes to innovation, it's interesting to note that in spite of this, many individuals are lacking a solid foundation when it comes to financial literacy. Women in particular, although they are usually the financial decision makers of any household, can many times just not have the exposure to financial decision making do's and don'ts. As the majority decision makers in many households, this is a demographic that is important to financial institutions. Here at MIT, the student population is fairly evenly split, but the various industries of focus represented are male dominated (something MIT is trying to change). In addition, studies have shown that young women are hesitant to let others know when they are unsure or do not have key knowledges and skills in specific areas. This is known as ‘the confidence gap’. It’s especially common at MIT where some of the brightest minds in the world come together to learn and collaborate.

Studies also show that much of the millennial generation in general are lacking in financial literacy skills (a survey by George Washington University shows that only 25% demonstrate a basic understanding of personal finance). So we had a challenge. To find a way to educate via engaging events that would provide a safe, open space to ask questions, and explore information, while also promoting the brand of MIT Federal Credit Union, where our purpose is to “fulfill dreams and enrich the lives of others.” We landed on the idea of Financially Empowered Women (F.E.W.).

F.E.W. is Born – We knew we wanted to hold evening events that brought young members and prospective members together for fun and learning. We wanted to stay away from any hint of “selling”. We also wanted to find a business to partner with; one that would provide the educational aspect of our events, further distinguishing these events as educational and not a way for the credit union to sell something. We were fortunate to connect with Society of Grownups, a MassMutual Learning Initiative, right when they’d decided to close down their brick-and-mortar learning center. They had educators, and we had ideas. They were willing to participate pro bono, as long as our events were not drawing on classes they had offered previously. There was a mutual understanding that no direct selling would occur during our events. We held a number of planning meetings and our marketing team completed significant research on topics and events that would be unique, unexpected, and doable within our budget and location constraints. Our program was given the go ahead, and in March of 2017, our first FEW Kick Off event was held. Feel free to visit our event page, www.mitfcu.org/few to read about upcoming events, and see photos and information on the events of 2017.