Dakota Credit Unions Staying Engaged!
by CUAD Communications

During times of trouble, credit unions shine as “giving back” is really in our DNA. The coronavirus crisis is no exception, and here are a few creative ways that Dakota credit unions are staying in touch with staff and members, as well as supporting their communities through this difficult time.


North Star Community CU (Maddock, ND) was quickly reacting to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with a three-tiered approach to helping its employees, its members and the communities it serves. Each of North Star’s nearly 100 employees received a $500 Pay It Forward cash bonus last week. “Everyone’s situation is different but we are encouraging employees to Pay It Forward by sharing this bonus with someone who needs it,” states North Star President Bob Herrington.


North Star is also providing assistance to its members by offering no-hassle 90-day loan extensions, hardship loans for personal expenses and automatic $500 Visa credit limit increases to help members work through this difficult time. Herrington states, “As a member-owned cooperative financial institution, we take every opportunity to serve our members, in good times and bad times. This is just one example of what makes credit unions different.”


In addition, to help benefit the local communities, North Star has allocated a $50,000 gift card budget to be used to purchase gift cards from local small businesses that are negatively impacted by closure or reduced hours because of the pandemic. These gift cards will then be given out to area groups such as health care workers, first responders, and teachers. “Each recipient will have the option to keep the gift card or once again pay it forward to someone else,” Herrington states. “It is our hope that these programs will have a wide-ranging impact and that members with little or no negative impact will be in a position to help someone around them in need.”


Oahe FCU’s CEO Dawn VanAsh learned from her sister, a nurse in Sioux Falls, about the desperate need for surgical masks, and how people were sewing and donating them. She wondered if the local hospital in Pierre was experiencing the same need, and after contacting one of her board members who works at the hospital there, she learned that they not only needed them, they had a pattern and instructions available for anyone who wanted to help. Dawn is planning on starting up her sewing machine. If you are interested in helping, be sure to check with your local hospital first to see if they are accepting the sewn masks, and where you can drop them off.


Aspire CU (Minot, ND) is helping to keep young kids entertained while they are home from school. Staff took turns reading stories from Dolly Parton's Imagination Library on Facebook. They also had resources for financial education, coloring sheets, and activity ideas for kids available.


Dakota West CU (Watford City, ND) is using conference calls to keep members of their staff “in the loop” rather than just sending emails. “I think hearing someone’s voice, and sharing the same information with everyone, helps ease the stress of the unknown,” said Juliet Jones, Marketing Coordinator. In addition, they are involving staff in writing hand-written cards to members daily, just to let them know the credit union is thinking about them. “We are just all going to have to do the best we can to serve one another in the days and weeks to come,” says Jones.


First Community CU (Jamestown, ND) shared that they are taking extra steps to make sure that members are prepared for the changing financial environment during the pandemic, including posters and social media tips for increasing awareness of potential scams.

University FCU (Grand Forks, ND) used social media to let their members know where free meals could be obtained during the crisis, and also helped support local businesses by letting their members know which local eating establishments were offering drive-thru pickup.


Med5 Federal CU (Rapid City, SD) is keeping morale up among employees by holding theme days at the credit union such as pajama day, favorite team day, favorite color day, and hat day. “Our members are loving it and we have had tons of positive feedback from both staff and members,” said Misty Winter, VP Lending at Med5. In addition, the credit union has been providing free lunches to staff this week while they catch up on any online training and back scanning.


Town & Country CU Marketing Specialist Chelsea Gleich reported that they did a “comfy day for charity” where staff was allowed to wear sweats to the office. They have also been keeping employees engaged with email trivia, bingo and word finds for prizes.  

Some of these ideas were shared on our new CUAD Members Only Discussion Board on InfoSight - which you can find here: https://dakotas.leagueinfosight.com/discussionboard. One board has been specifically designated for the “COVID-19 Pandemic” and is meant as a venue where Dakota credit unions can ask questions, share, and discuss locally what they are doing during this unprecedented time. Be sure to check it out! 



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