A friend of mine forwarded me a notice he received today from CUNA. It’s in regards to a new committee: The Membership Growth Task Force. In the body of the notice is a grim chart showing by decade the Annual Average Membership Growth. We’re at an all-time low.

CUNA Chairman, Allan Kemp McMorris is making membership growth at credit unions among his top priorities during his tenure. CU membership has expanded only 1.9% during the past six years. Down from 2.5% annually during the 1990’s and way down from the 60’s and 70’s when growth was 6.7% annually.

Seems odd that credit union membership growth would decline at the same time that many credit unions have expanded their fields of membership from those restrictive common bonds to territories as large as an entire state (Washington comes to mind where at last count 80 credit unions can serve everyone in the state).

It appears from the press release that CUNA has set up a page on the website to facilitate the sharing of ideas. “We are especially interested in success stories from credit unions of their own “best practices’ in successfully growing their memberships,” said task force Chairman Dick Ensweiler*

My biggest fear – that people are going to share their membership BRIBE ideas.

It appears when credit unions compete with community charter, they resort to membership bribes that, according to the book Punk Marketing, is really distress marketing.

“Distress marketing makes consumers think there’s something wrong, pure and simple. Avoid it and folks will respect you again.”

Some may argue that these are very successful campaigns. But are you getting LOYAL members? I might take the bribe, (iPod) but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to be loyal. Just means I need an iPod.

Many credit unions are successful getting new members in the door only to see an equal or greater number leave out the back [door].

Remember the 80/20 rule? On average, 20% of your members will bring you 80% of your profits. Today it’s more like 10% will bring you 120% of your profits

What have you done for them lately? How are you rewarding members who are loyal to the credit union? Do they get an iPod?

SIDEBAR: *I heard Dick speak at a chapter meeting a couple of years ago. If you’ve never heard him he’s a big time credit union evangelist. He said – the best way to fight the taxation issues — ACT like a credit union. I cheered! He’s good people.