The Credit Union That Community Built

In the third season of its popular webisode and CUSP series, Callahan & Associates examines what it means to be a community credit union.


Could you build a house in a week? What about in five days? In 96 hours? In August, ABC’s Extreme Makeover:  Home Edition visited Neenah, WI. There, the show — with  more than a little help from build partner Community First Credit Union — filmed an episode for its Fall 2010 season (airing 10.24.10). During the filming, the communities of Fox Valley witnessed first-hand a tangible example of the cooperative spirit. And as a powerful local cooperative, Community First played a major role in helping the project come to fruition.

True to its name, Community First is an advocate for Fox Valley. As a community-chartered credit union, CFCU serves more than 80,000 members in 12 counties in northeastern and central Wisconsin. It is dedicated to promoting wellness in the communities it serves, from financial to physical to everything in between.

For Season 3 of its "Anatomy" webisode series and CUSP feature, Callahan & Associates spent two days talking with the community, members, and staff of Community First.  For this financial institution, putting community first isn’t just a name choice, it’s a strategic differentiation. Learn about the community charter and Community First’s best practices in the 2Q 2010 issue of CUSP. Then watch the newest season’s video series on CUtv, Anatomy of a Community Credit Union, for ongoing exclusive video insight. Videos are updated weekly; here’s a sneak peak at what’s to come.

  • The credit union relies on levity and the competitive spirit to make loan recapture initiatives fun for its employees and the community. The strategy is working. As of June 2010, Community First Credit Union is in the enviable position of growing loans (15.98%) faster than shares (9.1%) on an annual basis.The credit union serves nearly 8% of its membership base and posted an ROA of 1.02% in second quarter 2010.
  • As a member-owned cooperative, CFCU returns profits to its member-owners, and the credit union educates its members on how their participation in the cooperative directly affects how much money ends up back in their pockets.

    “It’s a challenge to educate member s…to help them understand what it means to be a productive member of the cooperative,” says Cathie Tierney, president and CEO of Community First. “They have a responsibility here, too.”
  • Community First is not just about financial performance, it also about community buy-in. In 2009, nearly half of the credit union’s staff contributed 7,068 volunteer hours to more than 250 nonprofit agencies, schools, and churches. And 2010 marked the 20th running of the Fox Cities Marathon — Festival of Races, which the credit union has sponsored since its inception.

Click here to watch the video exclusives on CUtv.




Oct. 4, 2010


  • What a fine example of what every credit union should be doing! May this inspire other credit unions to follow suit.