'A Day in the Life of Credit Unions' Turns Sixteen

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A "Day" has turned into 16 years.

In this case, it's Credit Union Journal's Day in the Life of Credit Unions Project, which begins on page 13. We launched Day in the Life as a way to pay tribute to and help credit unions celebrate International Credit Union Week in 1997 (if you're unfamiliar with ICU Week, here's a hint: it's this week).

When it debuted, it was really meant to just be a one-year thing. But even though credit unions were in the midst of fighting the biggest legislative and court battles in their history at the time, we figured out pretty quickly we were on to something when readers responded to the Day in the Life Project by calling and e-mailing and asking to sign up to participate in 1998. And thus Day in the Life took on a Life of its own.

If you're unfamiliar with it, the Day in the Life Project involves credit unions from around the U.S. and the world (this year it's Peru and Ethiopia) all shooting informal photos of events at their operations on the same day. In short, a day in their lives. They then provide those photos to Credit Union Journal and the editorial team narrows the photos down to those you see here and, this year, on our Facebook page.


Mundane, And Yet...

What Day in the Life of Credit Unions does, more than anything else, is illustrate the "community" in credit union community. No doubt some of the individual photos featured show mundane tasks such as counting cash or manning a drive-thru or taking a loan app. Not exactly the stuff of MTV's next reality show. But where the real magic lies is in the collective of the activities represented by all the photos. Different people. Different places. Different continents. But a common purpose: serving members. It's the international common bond of the 21st century, and the reason a Credit Union Week was conceived in the first place.

Interested in participating in 2013? We'd be delighted to have you. Contact Lisa Freeman at lfreeman@cujournal.com. But hurry, because Day in the Life isn't just a name, it's about the length of time it takes to fill up.

* Received a press release recently from a credit union announcing it has unveiled a redesigned website. But apparently the R&D budget was a wee bit limited, as the release noted, "Aside from an upgraded and updated look, the new website is the result of several hours of research and feedback from members..."

* This column space was used a few weeks back to address those credit unions that apparently believe themselves to be so cutting edge that they've cut "Credit Union" from their names. But we would be remiss not to point to at least one credit union that has kept the "Credit Union" in its name, and instead prefaced those two words with two others that are, um, interesting?

As Credit Union Journal reported in the Sept. 3 issue, a charter has been granted to Internet Archive FCU. Granted, its mission is admirable-to serve low-income people in New Brunswick and Highland Park, N.J.,-but has anyone ever heard a more peculiar name for a CU? It would seem to suggest the two cities are home to a small, yet measurable, population of Internet archivists.

This is one for marketing folks in credit unions who've grown bored and are looking for that next big, new challenge. Amazingly or oddly (or adjective of your choice), the name has nothing to do with the credit union's FOM. Still not sufficiently challenged, even though many of the potential new members likely don't have Internet access and don't understand the name? Well, hang on, because many in its potential FOM also don't speak English as their first language. What? Still not sold on the marketing challenge?! The CU's sponsor is located 2,906 miles away in San Francisco. And all of that comes on top of the enormous challenge inherent in any credit union start-up.

Internet Archive FCU may be the most uniquely chartered, oddly named credit union that you will ever find in a search of, well, the Internet. Internet Archive is a 401(c) (3) non-profit that is funded by the Kahle/Austin Foundation and was founded to build an Internet library with a goal of creating access for all. If you want the whole story you can visit the Internet and go to CUJournal.com where you can read it-I'm sorry, but have to say it-in our archives.

It probably won't come as an enormous surprise to many that the credit union is operating under an alias or, maybe it's more fitting to say an avatar, with its primarily Hispanic target market: Caja D'oro, which translates as Box of Gold. A spokesperson for the CU said its target market is calling it the "Golden Credit Union." I think most agree a nickname is a good idea here.


Name Worth Archiving

Speaking of names, the name thing is never easy. The credit union community in the U.S. has seen some strong brand names and some others that I wouldn't brand on a steer. Kudos should go to one new name that's on the other end of the naming spectrum from Internet Archive and is on the front door of a new charter granted to serve 150,000 residents of Kalamazoo, Mich.

While I might have gone with Kalamazoo & You CU, smarter minds instead have chartered Community Promise FCU. Now there's a name that sums up its mission, is brandable, and is worthy of being archived on the Internet.

Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at fdiekmann@cujournal.com.

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