Simply put, PFCU’s primary focus is on our members, because we believe there’s no better investment than community. We have branches throughout Philadelphia and Columbia County, so we make sure we take the time to get to know all of our neighbors, as they make up the fabric of our community. We work hard every day to ensure that we’re offering our fellow members better rates, better fees, and a better philosophy than a traditional bank, because when our members succeed, it’s better for everyone. We feel the best way to help our members succeed financially is to get to know them personally, connect with them in a meaningful way, and learn about what matters most to them, which is why we host regular events and pop-ups to engage with the people who live, work, and play in the communities we serve.
In years past, PFCU ventured out into the community to distribute free snacks and water bottles outside of select branch locations during the summer as a way of showing their appreciation for members. While popping up outside of branches was well-received by the community, we wanted to dig deeper into people’s financial goals to better understand how we could serve members’ – and non-members’ – needs.
“PFCU has been popping up at various branches around the city for years, but we wanted to refresh our summer pop-up series to really get at the heart of people’s financial goals,” said Mary Simmons, VP of Marketing at PFCU. “Our main goal was to engage with our members in a way that was not only impactful for them, but fun and interactive as well. We came up with the idea of asking members to make a ‘savings wish,’ because hearing firsthand what our members want to save up for enables us to better help them.”
From June to September, a PFCU street team popped up at four PFCU branch locations in Philadelphia to get to know our community members by asking them to participate in a quick financial-themed activity.
We gave each participant a gold token to hold on to while they told us their financial goals and wishes; the participant then tossed their token into our traveling PFCU Wishing Fountain, a three-tiered fountain in PFCU’s signature orange hue, that we set up outside of each branch. After making their “savings wish,” each individual would receive one of three summer-themed prizes, depending on which tier of the fountain their token landed in: a PFCU-branded tote bag, sunglasses, or a finger loop for their cellphone. Seeing community members and their loved ones make financial wishes while enjoying their time together was yet another reminder to us of why we always put our members’ needs before our own.
In addition to winning a themed prize, those who participated also had the opportunity to speak directly with an on-site PFCU representative who offered some helpful information about PFCU member savings and discounts and our PFCU Member Referral Program. Non-members received information on becoming a PFCU member. To sweeten the pot, if they signed up directly with the PFCU representative on-site, their $5 start-up deposit was included. Although it may seem like a small perk, a handful of passersby did take us up on this!
By the end of the summer, we had handed out free soft pretzels and cold water – still appreciated on those hot summer days – but what’s more, we were able to engage with more than 600 Philadelphians about their financial aspirations.
Not only did we raise overall awareness of the credit union amongst all of the non-members who stopped by our tables to chat with our street team, but we actually had six new member signups on-site, as well as a handful of people who took our representative’s contact information to sign up later that day when they had more time. But this pop-up series was about more than just new member sign-ups; it was about inspiring our current and potential members to really consider what they want to start saving up for – it even got some people thinking about what they would do or purchase if they won the lottery!
“Because we serve many communities across the Philadelphia region, having the chance to talk face-to-face with our members and get to know them outside of the credit union is right at the heart of our mission,” said Karen Eavis, Communications Specialist at PFCU. “Although the series is just one of many community events we host each month, we continue to focus our efforts on events that let community members know we’re here – and we’re here for them.”
We’ve integrated our members’ feedback into our business model so they can have complete confidence in us and our services, namely our wide variety of savings accounts – a feature we were able to utilize and share during our pop-up series. We were able to recommend that members who told us they wanted to begin saving up for a well-deserved vacation should open a Vacation Club Savings Account. With this account, members can stash some money in a separate account and watch it grow until their dream vacation becomes their reality – because everyone deserves to take a break from their everyday hustle and bustle.
Helping our members save their hard-earned money so they can achieve their personal goals – whether they’re saving up for a car, home, gifts, etc. – is something we strive to do every day. We know that every single member is different and has different aspirations, so we constantly make note of our members’ expressed wants and needs, especially regarding what they look for in a financial institution.
At PFCU, we take the time to get to know our members so we can offer them a personalized, hands-on experience rather than the automated experience you typically get with a traditional bank. We also have the freedom to put our members first, as opposed to shareholders, since PFCU is a member-owned institution. There is truly nothing more satisfying than having the power to put our members’ profit over our own and being able to get to know our members’ personalities, hear about their goals, and help them bring those goals to life. Although saving money can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, when you have the power and the lasting support of your credit union backing you, anything is possible.
Erin Ellis is an Accredited Financial Counselor at Philadelphia Federal Credit Union