As a result of the recession, North Jersey Federal Credit Union has learned to do more with less. We hired experts in areas we typically would have outsourced to enable us to do more things in house, targeted geographic areas for increasing membership, and absorbed two smaller credit unions' members and assets (allowing us to add two "new" branches).

We strategically sought partnerships with businesses. We created the NJ Preferred Program that allows our business account-holders to market to our members. We also hosted a Business Growth Summit in 2011 where 120 businesses learned about services that would benefit their operations and bottom line. Given this success, we are scheduling our 2nd Annual Business Summit for September.

External Relationships Pay Off

Regarding external partnerships, New England Financial offers our members financial management services. Through these programs, we have seen our business accounts increase by over 30%.

We also decreased our marketing budget and turned our focus to low-cost community outreach initiatives. We hosted a well-received Art of Membership contest in 2011 and 2012, where we exhibited artwork submitted by members at our branches. Our staff and members regularly volunteer at toy drives, walk-a-thons, golf outings, and parades. We even created a foundation to focus on charitable giving and have donated to non-profit organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club, Marines Care Corp, and La Casa de Don Pedro. To teach teens financial literacy, we partnered with JFK High School in Paterson, NJ to open an unprecedented student-run branch.

During the height of the recession, we had a Recession Survival Guide on our website with community and government resources. We also launched the Green Machine, a mobile branch that offers teller services and an ATM, to help us reach out to select employment groups and other organizations.

Lourdes Cortez
North Jersey FCU, Patterson N.J.

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