VACU halted in-person financial education classes in March and has seen strong attendance for its virtual financial education sessions.
In-house and external resources are used to keep offerings updated and to meet an ambitious goal of one new production a week.
CU QUICK FACTS
Virginia Credit Union
HQ: Richmond, VA
Data as of 06.30.30
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 19.9%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 4.2%
Virginia Credit Union ($4.3B, Richmond, VA) had to slam the door on in-person classes when COVID-19 came calling, but the Old Dominion cooperative was ready to roll online.
Quickly switching to an all-virtual class structure, VACU continued with its already robust lineup of digital offerings, which include topics such as “Strategies for Eliminating Debt”, and added some more timely ones, like “5 Steps to Protect Yourself Financially from the Impact of the Coronavirus”.
That particular webinar, in fact, has drawn more than 2,000 viewings. In total, from mid-March to the end of July, 26,346 people have attended one or more of the pre-recorded virtual sessions on a variety of topics, says Cherry Dale, who became the Richmond-based credit union’s first financial education director when she came aboard in August 2007.
“We’ve had as little as 10 or 20 people attend a webinar and some that have drawn more than a thousand people,” Dale says.
A Webinar A Week
VACU is a multiple SEG-based credit union — with a heavy concentration of state and local government employees — and 20 branches concentrated in and around Richmond, but members scattered across the state.
Cherry Dale, Vice President of Financial Education, Virginia Credit Union
Dale’s team comprises four financial educators: herself, adult education specialist Sylvia Watford, youth and college specialist Tom Katovsich, and K-12 specialist Sheron Myers.
Along with the credit union’s internal Partner Perks team — the staffers assigned to promoting and presenting directly to and at SEG locations — the team had been presenting four or five classes in person a day until the third week of March.
“We were pretty busy,” Dale says. They still are, only now updating existing webinars and creating new ones — shooting for one a week, on their own and in partnership with BALANCE, a non-profit provider of financial coaching and education.
All those and more are on a landing page — VACU’s “Learn” page — that includes links to virtual financial education classes, financial management info in general, security tips, life events considerations, and more.
Money Talk And Money Lab
Tom Katovsich, Youth and College Financial Education Manager, Virginia Credit Union
Dale says they were already trending toward more virtual offerings before the pandemic struck. In fact, in January, the credit union had begun a Facebook Live event called Money Talk Mondays — which have been well attended, including by about a dozen viewers who followed up with requests for one-on-one budgeting and financial counseling.
And for the younger set, there’s now a Teen Money Lab through that same Facebook channel, with gamification embedded to help the learning medicine go down. “We had 70 people sign up for that in the first hour after we posted it,” Dale says.
The live events are recorded and presented using Webex and GoToMeeting, while Danny Swanson, the credit union’s senior multimedia content producer, uses Wistia video marketing software to apply the finishing touches, including ensuring ADA compliance, before they’re posted. After that, emails are sent to advertise their availability.
Soliciting More Feedback
Sylvia Watford, Senior Financial Education Specialist, Virginia Credit Union
The financial education team plans to soon follow the lead of the Partner Perks team that works with SEGs and add its own evaluation tools to the end of webinars to help update and polish the presentations.
“Our Perks Program team is more sales oriented and they’ve gotten a lot of leads from their webinars and the feedback tools they have in place,” Dale says.
Dale’s team also is planning to launch an online lunch-and-learn program in September, which will include such presentations from internal experts on such topics as digital account opening and personal online security.
A Matter Of Mission
Dale says her credit union’s financial wellness work not only fits the cooperative’s core mission but helps set VACU apart from competing banks and credit unions.
Sheron Myers, Senior Financial Education Specialist, Virginia Credit Union
“We truly believe that if we do it well and with the right intention, our members will absolutely benefit from it,” she says. “Our team’s mission is to ensure our members’ financial health is going in the right direction.”
She also says the emphasis on online content will continue when the coast is clear enough to resume in-person classes, to accommodate people who want to attend that way, and to continue to extend the classes’ reach across the state.
“We don’t know when that will be. We’ll just have to watch how the state is trending and when the time is right,” Dale says. “I do think there’s tremendous value to in-person classes. There are just things that might get missed online. The ability to do both, though, is a good thing to have.”
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