The month of April is an important time of year for credit unions. National Credit Union Youth Month is an opportunity for credit unions to gain a new generation of members: those who are 18 and under. National Credit Union Youth Month first began as National Credit Union Youth Week in 2002. It was a program developed to give credit unions tools and a specific time frame set aside to market to a younger area of membership. In 2015, this week grew into a month, and now credit unions have all 30 days in April to celebrate and educate their youngest members on what credit unions can do for the community and the importance of saving money from a young age.
Each year, a new theme is selected for the extended youth event. The themes are geared towards the younger generation and aim to get young people excited about and interested in learning about managing finances. Some of the most recent years’ themes were as follows: 2012 was a superhero theme titled “Super Saver,” 2013 was themed “Savings Sleuth – Solve the Mystery,” 2014 was “Catch the Save Wave” complete with surf-styled content, and 2015, the first month-long youth savings event was themed “Wild About Saving” and included marketing materials based on zoo animals. This year’s credit union youth month theme, “Credit Union Strong – Pump Up Your Savings,” has taken a more mature, different route in that it still delivers an interesting way to get youth excited about saving by incorporating the importance of not only being financially fit and strong, but physically healthy as well. This is seen in credit unions’ campaigns that offer an entry to win a FitBit device each time youth members make a deposit into their savings account in the month of April, like at Wanigas Credit Union in Saginaw, Missouri.
There are many other ways that credit unions obtain new youth membership during the month of April. Wanigas Credit Union and many other credit unions are offering to match their new youth members’ opening deposit to their youth savings account for the month of April. Other credit unions like Tulsa Teachers Credit Union (TTCU) in Oklahoma are offering entries into other types of drawings like season passes for the whole family to their local zoo, or entering ideas to name their “Cute Pig” piggy bank to win a $50 savings deposit. In addition, credit unions like TTCU and SAFE Federal Credit Union in Sumter, South Carolina are giving away prizes immediately when youth open a new account. Some of these prizes include club member t-shirts, passes to local pizza joints, piggy banks, color changing sunglasses and other tiny treats that are seen as big incentives to kids. These credit unions have recognized what gets their youth excited about saving and are using that to draw them in and teach them about being financially strong.
There are many benefits that come from credit unions participating in campaigns geared toward youth membership. Credit union youth month gives credit unions the opportunity to highlight their efforts for financial education and commitment towards community growth for both adults and kids. This is done by not only educating kids about finances, but educating parents on how to teach their kids to be successful at saving, how savings will grow over time, how to make deposits, write checks, and how to save for larger purchases. One of the many benefits that comes back to the credit union is that through these initiatives they can gain lifelong members: youth that grow into financially capable adults who trust their credit union for all of their banking needs. When credit unions teach the younger generation how to save their money and leave the community better than they found it, the community can experience long-term growth from these kinds of initiatives as well.