Cash to Lucky Members, Savings to the Credit Union, Members and the Planet

SECU Gives Back to Members and Saves Money through Its Million Dollar Sweepstakes


State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) of Raleigh, N.C., ($15.9 billion) introduced a Million Dollar Sweepstakes in 2007 to encourage member checking account holders to convert from paper statements to e-statements. The Sweepstakes was intended to educate members on the cost to their credit union each month to print and mail paper statements and how members directly benefit when SECU is able to improve efficiency. The Million Dollar Sweepstakes began in January 2007 and ran through December 7, 2007. In order to dissuade members from switching to e-statements to become eligible for the contest and then switching back, the contest was scheduled to last a full year. Over the course of 2007, one hundred members won $5,000 a piece and 20 lucky members won $25,000 each. The first drawing was held in February, and eleven subsequent drawings were held through December 2007, resulting in $1,000,000 in member awards. 

The idea of a sweepstakes came from SECU’s 1,500+ volunteer branch Advisory Boards, which work directly with each of their 200+ local branches. The Board of Directors asked Advisory Board members to suggest ways in which SECU could increase the usage of e-statements and checking services. Advisory Boards, which serve as local focus groups for the credit union, endorsed a sweepstakes approach as most likely to capture members’ interest and participation. Advisory Board members particularly liked the idea of sharing the cost savings with the membership through the Sweepstakes drawings.

The cost for SECU to produce and mail monthly paper statements generally exceeded $1 per statement in printing, postage, and handling costs. At the launch of the program, there were 683,000 SECU checking accounts. SECU estimated that the cost of sweepstakes prizes would be recovered if as few as 15% of the SECU checking account members signed up for e-statements. The credit union realized that finding a way to move more members from paper to electronic statements would generate tremendous savings.

To inform their membership about the Sweepstakes, SECU ran promotions through several different channels such as banners, posters, and other materials in branches, statement inserts, and SECU’s monthly newsletter. The theme for the campaign was It pays to be a member-owner, and guided members to understanding that members themselves would be generating the savings and reaping the benefits. SECU explained to its members that e-statements are not subject to loss or delay through the mail, that receiving statements electronically may reduce the risk of fraud or identity theft, and that members can review checking transactions and check copies via the internet daily. SECU motivated many members by both informing them about environmental benefits of e-statements and explaining that the resulting savings would benefit the entire membership.

Seeing Results
The initial response to the Sweepstakes campaign was very positive and e-statement enrollments increased dramatically. The first week the Sweepstakes ran in January, e-statement requests doubled the total requests for December, 2006. The momentum continued and SECU received a 40 percent increase in the number of members opting out of paper statements in the first month. At the end of the promotion, over 150,000 of 1.45 million SECU members were using e-statements; over 95,000 of these members switched during the promotional period.

Three months after the Sweepstakes ended, SECU continues to see members switch to e-statements. Since 1Q 2007, the number of share draft accounts has increased 6.1 percent to 739,207. Of the members having these accounts, 24 percent or 177,548, now receive e-statements. This is three-fold increase over the 8.1 percent before the Million Dollar Sweepstakes. Because of this successful program, the credit union will see an annual savings of approximately $2 million, which will increase year after year.

Leigh Brady, SECU’s Senior Vice President of Education Services, says, “E-statements are a wonderful concept – they are provided to members at no cost, generate substantial savings through reduced postage and paper, and offer great environmental benefits as well. Moreover, through the Million Dollar Sweepstakes, SECU had the unique opportunity to give back even more, taking the ‘People Helping People’ philosophy to another level.

“One million dollars was put in the pockets of 120 lucky individuals,” continues Brady. “Many of whom used the funds to pay down debt, pay for higher education, and put down payments on homes. At SECU, we strive everyday to help members improve their financial wellbeing and the Sweepstakes was a successful way to make a difference. The annual savings of almost $2 million will continue to benefit SECU’s membership.”