Community Service

Get Ready for ICU Day

This year’s theme is ‘members matter most.’

September 11, 2012
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So what exactly is International Credit Union (ICU) Day?

We know when it is (third Thursday in October).

We know where it is (celebrated around the world).

We know why it is (to promote the credit union philosophy)

But what, exactly, is it?

For the answer, I’ve turned to some credit union marketers and front-line staff.

Member recognition

Kristy Olson is new to Credit Union West in Arizona, but she already knows ICU Day is about recognizing members.

Credit unions are known for thanking members in October with prizes, raffles, handshakes, and, as always, food. From hot dog lunches to coffee and cake, there will be food.


Evelyn Tafalla with HUD Federal Credit Union in Washington, D.C., considers it a traditional event and expects to celebrate “even in these austere times.”

Taking a day to recognize the impact credit unions can make in our lives goes back as far as 1927. Although Bank Transfer Day grabbed the spotlight in 2011, credit unions have been telling the credit union story every October for more than half a century.

Global appreciation

Last year, Communities of Abilene Federal Credit Union and children from the Youth Services of Dyess Air Force Base created country flags to represent credit unions worldwide. The credit union displayed the flags at each branch.

Other credit unions, such as L.E.O. Credit Union Inc., Painesville, Ohio, shared desserts staff baked using their family “homeland” recipes. This year, credit unions have been sharing international recipes, which are published weekly in the free weekly e-newsletter, ICU Day Update.


Many credit unions celebrate ICU Day by contributing to a charity or community need. Be it their time or their money (or both), staff and members illustrate the philosophy of “people helping people.”

In 2011, Desert Valleys Federal Credit Union in Ridgecrest Calif., joined forces with a local animal shelter to help find homes for some lonely pets. The credit union also collected donations of pet food, animal treats, and money to support the animal shelter.

Making sense of it all

Nationally and internationally, credit unions work to build their communities. On October 18, credit union staff can step back to thank those who make a difference and reward members for being a vital part of their credit unions.

This year’s theme, “Members Matter Most,” strives to be simple and clear, summarizing credit unions’ primary purpose and reason for being.

Beyond a day of thanks, ICU Day can serve as a chance to explain how credit unions are different and to anchor a membership campaign. Bank bashing may garner headlines, but what sort of new member does it attract?

Whereas an educated new member has full reason to put down roots and take advantage of multiple credit union advantages.

Whatever form ICU Day takes, these resources will make it memorable:

  • Art and articles, including high-resolution images of the ICU Day poster, coloring pages, and copy to promote ICU Day.
  • Worksheets to help members schedule, plan, and budget, featuring promotion and celebration tips and a budgeting tool.
  • Weekly e-newsletter sent free with celebration and social media ideas.

Check our ICU Day website for news, or visit us on Facebook.

For more information, contact Joanne Sepich at 800-356-9655, ext. 4867.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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