The Patronage Payout Party

Credit unions drive home the message that their members are appreciated by timing dividend payouts with a holiday.

 
Yun Ma

By Yun Ma

 

Distributing dividends is a unique way for credit unions to express their thanks and appreciation to members for their patronage, a practice that ties in perfectly with the cooperative ideals of co-ownership. All too often, however, that message of appreciation gets lost if it isn’t set up properly. To mark the dividend distribution as special and celebratory, credit unions have often timed the payout to coincide with a holiday or the credit union’s own anniversary. Depending on the holiday, this practice also allows the credit union to link the bonuses to themes of renewal, gratitude, and even romance.

Here are some examples of credit unions that timed their payouts with specific occasions:

An Early Christmas

Dividends are often distributed in December and January, making Christmas, Hannukah, and New Year’s ideal occasions for the payouts. In 2011, CEFCU ($4.8B, Peoria, IL) put $7 million into members’ wallets on December 12, a gift that came just in time for the holiday shopping season. In 2012, American Airlines Credit Union ($5.7B, DFW Airport, TX) helped members ring in the New Year with a whopping $10 million dividend distribution on New Year’s Eve.

Show Them A Little Love

The members of CommunityAmerica Credit Union ($1.8B, Kansas City, MO) received something much better than a dozen red roses on February 14, when the cooperative collectively paid them $1 million in dividends.

“This year’s payout happens to fall on Valentine’s Day, providing us with a well-timed opportunity to show some additional love for our members,” says CEO Dennis Pierce.

A Thoughtful Gesture

At first glance, the decision by MECU ($1.2B, Baltimore, MD) to pay its members a $2 million bonus in July 2012 seems strange. But the timing was an especially thoughtful gesture for the teachers who comprise a large portion of MECU’s membership because they don’t get paid during the summer. For other members, the extra money came in handy for summer vacations. MECU also delivered a second payout in December, distributing a total of $4 million in dividends for the year.

A One-Time Anniversary Bonus

In February 2012, 1st Advantage Federal Credit Union ($562M, Newport News, VA) celebrated its 60th anniversary by sharing the wealth. The credit union doled out a one-time $500,000 anniversary bonus to members based on the total amounts of their deposits and loan balances in 2011.

Giving Back On Give Back Day

On December 14, Partner Colorado Credit Union ($235M, Arvada, CO) gave back to its members on Give Back Day in the best way possible: with $700,000 in dividend bonuses. In keeping with the day’s theme, the credit union also sponsored a food drive for the community’s benefit. “Giving back is part of who we are as a credit union, and we live that philosophy every day,” says CEO Sundie Seefried.