Credit unions have the opportunity to act as an educator, counselor and advocate for their members and communities. Thousands of credit unions nationwide offer educational programs that encourage members to work toward a sound financial future. Here are five steps that will help you improve your Financial Literacy program:
- Tailor the curriculum: Find out what your members need. Do they need general information about budgeting, balancing checking accounts and managing credit scores? Or are they interested in learning about how to achieve a specific goal such as retiring or purchasing a car or home? When you know what your members are looking for, you can create lessons that are relevant and memorable. Be sure to advertise your educational offerings through media that is popular for your target demographic; it might not make sense to publicize retirement seminars through social media outlets.
- Develop partnerships: Think about the target audience and their needs. Reach out to local organizations that comprise a similar membership or are already providing similar educational services. For example, if you want to encourage teenage fiscal responsibility, conduct a savings seminar at area schools. In a recent webinar, Leo MacNeil, SVP of Community Relations at HarborOne CU pointed out that, “there are ways for communities to streamline education initiatives and become more efficient. To avoid redundancies throughout the community, be aware of what other organizations are doing”.
- Find a desirable venue: The venue should be a place where “students” feel comfortable, yet provides limited distractions or interruptions. If you’re partnering with a group such as the YMCA, a senior center or a dance studio, then an appropriate space might be readily available. Otherwise, think about what areas exist in your own facilities or scout out easily accessible public spaces. Don’t underestimate the value of an online course.
- Schedule theme weeks: No, these theme weeks don’t include wearing Hawaiian shirts or dressing as your favorite number. Depending on your members’ needs, theme weeks can include topics such as Real Estate, Back to Basics or Investing for Retirement. Themes help instructors focus the curriculum and avoid redundancy, and they help attendees identify which classes are most relevant to their needs.
- Solicit feedback: Your financial literacy curriculum should be continually evolving. Hand out surveys or devote an area of your website to anonymous constructive critique. Knowing where you need to improve is just as important as knowing where you are succeeding.