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Nine Tips for Totally Rad Youth Programs

Don’t wait to reach out to tomorrow’s members.

April 23, 2013
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Today’s youth are tomorrow’s borrowers. Credit unions shouldn’t wait to build relationships with them.

Financial education can be the cornerstone of your youth-outreach program. Consider these nine tips for running a successful youth program:

1. Keep things fresh. That means regular updates to websites and timely, trendy prizes to get kids into branches on a regular basis.

2. Make it personal. Directions Credit Union, a $560 million asset credit union serving Toledo and northwest Ohio, for example, allows children to personalize their savings accounts, tying them to that special item they want, like an Xbox or an iPad.

3. Get in schools and stay in schools. State Employees' Credit Union's Leigh Brady says credit unions need to go back year after year and keep offering fresh curricula. Skip a year and a different financial institution might take your spot. Many districts lack financial education expertise, so they will welcome the partnerships.

4. Market to existing members. Parents hugely influence the early financial behaviors of their children, and their children form a captive audience—at the moment.

5. Don’t recreate the wheel. You can modify and rebrand many existing products and services to suit young adults.

6. Be age appropriate. NuVision Federal Credit Union in Huntington Beach, Calif., for example, expands the financial services it offers to children. The lessons the $1.2 billion asset credit union imparts become more sophisticated as the children get older.

7. Allow for mistakes. Give children the chance to make some real decisions—and maybe even some mistakes while the stakes are low, the supervision is high, and the learning opportunities and consequences are immediate.

8. Be ready to transition youth members into regular members. Have products and services that appeal to young adults. More and more this means mobile banking and a social media presence.

9. Participate in National Credit Union Youth Week. That's when hundreds of credit unions and their members will take part in CUNA's National Youth Saving Challenge. Last year, young credit union members deposited more than $21 million into their savings accounts.

Visit our National Credit Union Youth Week page for more ideas.

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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 (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) 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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