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To woo members CUs turn to contests
MADISON, Wis. (12/17/10)--Credit unions are wooing members--be they potential new members or existing ones--by turning to contests that entertain, reward members for good financial habits, add good will, and provide some financial education.
Click to view larger image Jim and Cheryl Shaw and children Cassidy and Jack walked away with $10,000 after beating out eight other families in Florida Commerce CU's weLiveFIT! Challenge. The family increased its savings to $3,016, reduced debt by $2,798, and boosted credit scores by 161 points. (Photo provided by Florida Commerce CU)
Tallahassee, Fla.-based Florida Commerce CU (FCCU) is a case in point. Earlier this month, it presented the $10,000 grand prize in its second weLiveFIT! Challenge to the Shaw family, who beat out eight other families competing to see who could improve their household finances the most. Jim and Cheryl Shaw, and their children Cassidy and Jack, emerged the winners after increasing their savings to $3,016, reducing their debt by $2,798 and boosting their credit scores by 161 points. "Although only one family received a check for $10,000, each family gained invaluable money management skills that will guarantee them long-term financial independence," said Samantha Strickland, vice president for growth and brand management at FCCU. The Middleton and Mallory families received $2,500 and $1,500, respectively, for making it to the final round. Florida Commerce provided the nine families with a personal finance coach during the 10-month competition. The families increased their credit scores by 422 points, decreased debt by $32,400. They saved a combined $34,901, compared to their $2,698 combined savings in March. Thousands of people followed the families' financial struggles and successes on Facebook and Twitter and in their blog and video postings on They received more than 45,000 votes from the public in June, September and November to determine which families progressed to the next round. In the last two weeks, nearly 14,000 votes were cast online. "The increased community involvement this season made this competition bigger and better, and we hope each family continues to live financially fit," said Strickland.
Click to view larger image Karolyn Wells, left, CEO of EdCo Community CU, Des Moines, Iowa, presents EdCo member Jana McLeod with the winning prize--a 32-inch LCD TV--in a national contest sponsored by the credit union's data processor, CU Answers. (Photo provided by EdCo Community CU)
Sometimes the credit union isn't the sponsor of a contest but a partner is. That happened when Jana McLeod, a member of EdCo Community CU, Des Moines, won a Sony Bravia 32-inch LCD TV. She was automatically entered into a national contest sponsored by EdCo's data processor, CU Answers, when she enrolled in the credit union's Online Bill Payment service and was randomly selected by CU Answers as the winner. More than 2,100 total entries were received from 51 participating credit unions. Karolyn Wells, EdCo CEO, said the contest was a great way to encourage EdCo members to take advantage of the ease and convenience of EasyPay and to begin paying bills online. Other recent competitions:
* In Riverside, Calif., Altura CU presented an Apple iPad to member
Click to view larger image Jessica Larson, a member of Riverside, Calif.-based Altura CU, shows off an Apple iPad she won for using her Altura Visa debit card during the credit union's promotion. (Photo provided by Altura CU)
Jessica Larson of Corona after she used her Altura Visa debit card. Every time cardholders used their card for purchases between Oct. 18 and Nov. 30 they were entered to win the iPad. "We created this promotional campaign to spread the word about Altura's Visa debit card and how easy it is to use for everyday purchases," said Jennifer Binkley, chief operating officer. * San Mateo CU, Redwood City, Calif., presented a 2011 Honda CR-Z Sport Hybrid to Teresa Guiterrez, a member for the past 10 years, as part of its pre-holiday car sale promotion. SMCU had mailed members a key, and Guiterrez's key fit the lock box. Her win came on the first day of the credit union's car sale. "The key giveaway is the highlight of the sale, said SMCU President/CEO Barry Jolette, "and it's always a treat to see the expression on the face of the winner." * Dublin, Ohio-based Ohio Healthcare FCU celebrated its loyal members and paved the way for an upcoming marketing campaign by rolling out its Next Top Credit Union Member contest in October. The contest sought applicants who could share a story about how the credit union made a difference in their life. Applicants fell into three contest categories and were asked to submit a short video about "How has OHCFCU made a difference in your life?" Nine videos were posted on the credit union's microsite, The public cast more than 41,000 votes in two weeks for their favorites. Each winner received $500 and their photo and testimonial will be used in an upcoming marketing campaign. "We want to roll out a campaign that highlights real members and real stories to encourage membership growth and credit union recognition," said Jaime Crooks, marketing director. * FORUM CU, Indianapolis, used savings goals as the basis for its SaveItUp Challenge. Participants entered to win three cash prizes once they enrolled in the program, completed four out of seven financial steps, and met at least one goal. Goal categories were savings, debt reduction and financial education. Savings goal winner Thomas Hasler and debt reduction goal winner Mitchell Butler each won a $3,000 Weekly 5 Club Account, while financial literacy prize winner Eric Normington won the $1,500 Weekly 5 Club prize. * GECU in El Paso, Texas, announced Heather McBride, a physical therapist, as the winner of its year-long competition, GECU Savings Challenge 2010: Back in the Black. McBride won $10,000 after tackling a new mortgage, student loans and other debt. She beat out five other participants in this year's challenge. Since the annual challenge began in 2007, participants have saved more than $174,000 and reduced debt by more than $281,000. * Vantage CU, Bridgeton, Mo., recently awarded $5,000 to Geannette Loftin Walls, who was one of 4,000 qualifying members taking part in the credit union's University of Savings campaign, which began in April. It encouraged savings by setting up automatic transfer to special savings. Walls set up an automatic transfer of $10 a month into an existing special account in April. "Our goal with this campaign was to encourage people to start saving in an automatic and ongoing way," said Kathy Palmer, vice president of marketing. "The promotion was a great success; many of our members continue to build on their savings."
And judging from the smiles on the faces of the winners in most of the photos News Now receives about the competitions, the contests work.


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