Free Stuff!

Posted by Greg Michlig Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:37:00 AM

Sometimes I eat an apple without washing it. I don’t have an umbrella readily accessible. I’ve seen the fuel range indicator drop to dashes. I wear my Milwaukee Brewers T-shirt in New Jersey. That’s right…I live on the edge. And that’s why I’m going to address the age-old question; what do I get for my dues?

This is not an all-inclusive list, as I don’t think it’s possible to produce one. Many of the items are lumped into categorical groups, otherwise there would be too much redundancy with subsets and sister offerings across the various disciplines we attend to.

Now, there are levels to the “what’s included” question as well. In some cases, affiliates have access to member-only services that may have a cost attached, such as education sessions, credit union-specific options through the Banking You Can Trust campaign, marketing resources, shared compliance staffing, or programs like the Reality and Retirement Fairs offered in partnership with New Jersey Credit Union Foundation.   

The next level could be those items that are included in dues that are core to league value, but may not be as tangible as a specific product. For instance, advocacy. Consumer, legislative, and regulatory advocacy are key tenants of what we provide. These, along with political action initiatives, can be measured to some extent, but with many wins coming through staunch defense against rising regulatory burden and attacks from for-profit financial institutions, the understood value is in our united voice as the New Jersey Credit Union Community.

Add to that “included” level other resources and offerings such as the Creative You program, Hike-the-Hill coordination, member-only newsletters and communications, participation in NJ DNA, NJ PLAN, NJ READ and NJCUL Youth Involvement Board meetings and activities, small credit union tools and mentoring programs, a centralized source for sharing of best practices and access to the gamut of offerings provided by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). I urge you to take advantage these offerings and opportunities.

Next, in the category of Free Stuff… the tangible products that are being provided at no additional cost through your affiliation with NJCUL. These are the things that you should be taking advantage of or at least taking the time to consider: 

  • Affiliate-only listings on the Banking You Can Trust and aSmarterChoice Web sites (automatic)
  • CU Policy Pro (regulatory compliance)
  • Job, resume, and classified postings
  • League InfoSight (regulatory compliance)
  • Member Benefits Report (specific to your credit union)
  • National Federation of Community Development CUs foreclosure avoidance toolkit
  • New Jersey and national quarterly statistical reports and analysis
  • NJCUL Compliance Help Line
  • RateWatch (interest rate comparison tool)
  • Salary data and position descriptions (in partnership with Callahan & Associates)
  • Select education sessions

These are meat and potatoes, as one person here said to me. There are other items, of course. I hope some come to mind as you read this.

So why go out on the edge and broach this subject here…now? Because in my conversations with credit union leaders throughout New Jersey, I continually find that there is a lack of awareness when it comes to many of these benefits of affiliation. While we promote these items in the Daily Exchange, in-person through credit union visits and networking activities, and through direct contact with stakeholders at credit unions, things fall through the cracks.

And this is understandable. Considering the onslaught of day-to-day tasks we all manage, at times we forget that people don’t know everything in the same way that we do. Specific to the league, we assume that people know we are here for them, know what we do, and because we send a daily newsletter, that people read every word. Well, not every word, but at least skim for the good stuff! Of course, that’s not the case and it’s on us to do a better job of ensuring the message is being delivered.

League Director of Marketing and Communications, Candice Nigro, is in the process of preparing a plan to help cut through some of the noise that we know exists within the broad array of communications you receive on a daily basis. As we do, I hope you’ll be responsive to our requests for information and, in turn, we’ll continue to do whatever we can to be sure the free stuff doesn’t fall through the cracks. 


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