What’s more mind-blowing than 2.9 billion potential members?

It’s likely a grossly understated number.

Dave Dawson


As of this writing and according to the US Census, there were about 327.4 million US citizens and almost 7.5 billion people worldwide. United States credit union membership reached 112.66 million members and 2.89 billion potential members by year-end 2017.

That’s all very impressive, particularly the potential membership count that is about nine times the total US population and about 26 times the current membership count. But consider this.

Only one of the nation’s credit unions claims a potential membership essentially equal to the entire US population. That would be the nation’s largest community-chartered credit union: Bethpage Federal Credit Union.

To be sure, having a potential member count in the multi-millions is rarified territory. As of Dec. 2017, only 1% (59) of the nation’s credit unions had a potential membership count of 7 million or more. Being the inquisitive guy, I took a look at this group. And for the record, I will not name names of what I found.

A credit union in the lower 8-digit range of potential membership has an entire state in their potential field. But they also include anyone belonging to a specific non-profit association. Checking this association’s website shows that virtually anyone in the country can belong. Let’s add 300 million to our 2.9 billion.

Another credit union in the lower 8-digit level of potential membership has an entire state and a significant number of counties in an adjoining state. And like the first example, belonging to a specified non-profit organization also qualifies you for credit union membership. This non-profit also appears to allow anyone in the US to join.

For those keeping score at home, we’ve just added 600 million or about 20% to our national potential membership, with just two credit unions.

It’s not just the very largest potential membership credit unions who are understating their potential. I found one in the mid 6-digit range for potential membership. This particular credit union focuses on employee groups, noting employees of “hundreds” of employers are eligible.

But…wait for it…they too have not just one but two non-profit associations whose members are also eligible. Neither of these appear to have a limit on who in the nation can join. Let’s add another 325 million to our potential list.

And then there’s another mid 6-digit range potential membership credit union that also has many employee groups and, in their case, many non-profit associations available, too. There’s another 325 million to add to the potential.

Altogether, that is more than 1.2 billion (+43%) potential members added looking at just four credit unions.

By no means is this all. The point is, the potential membership count for US credit unions, even as large as currently counted, is way under-stated.



Credit Unions Remain Popular for Mainstream Media

The not-for-profit credit union still has mainstream appeal. Hey, with better rates and lower fees and member-owner level service, what’s not to like? (Oh yeah, how about more branches.) OK, than that, the industry has generally ridden a wave of popularity. That got a big boost from Bank Transfer Day on Nov. 5, 2011. Organized by credit union member Kristen Christian, this event inadvertently leveraged the Occupy Wall Street protests that were being held separately. Regardless, the mainstream media all jumped in behind credit unions. From that time forward, credit union membership growth has continued to accelerate, long after the talking head pundits have stopped talking about credit unions.

But recent credit union PR efforts show you can still spark the interest of the media. Go to my blog to get the story.


Predicting the future is a tricky business.

Math may be great and all that, but in the end it is a tool that has its limitations. Take linear regression analysis, for instance. You pick a starting point. You have an ending point. The math shows you the rise and run of a potential trend. But how do you know if this is what will happen?

You don’t, of course because there are so many variables that should be considered but are not in the equation. Such is the risk I took on a blog post predicting the credit union industry by 2025. Sure I think it’s safe to say we will have many few organizations (sadly enough) but those that are left will be significantly larger than what they are today. But when does this trend line bend the other way? At some point the resources of a larger credit union will make it more competitive and less likely to go away.

Will it be at the $500 million average asset size? Could be.


The Top 5 Most Important Ingredients to a Successful Marketing Campaign

After thousands of promotions produced over the years, we can pretty much predict which ones will be the most successful even before the consumer’s set their eyes on it.  Go to The Credit Union Marketer to see if you agree I have hit upon the 5 most important aspects to a marketing campaign. Let me know what you think. Thanks!


Forget 80/20, it’s 90/10 for credit unions.

We all know the ubiquitous 80/20 rule. But would you be shocked to learn that 90% of the net profit is earned by 10% of the credit unions? Actually the curve is steeper than it seems, with 5% earning 75%. I call this the new 5/75 Rule.  As you might expect, this is examined in more detail on my blog, The Credit Union Marketer.


What can go wrong with 100+ million members?

I was getting ready to pop the champagne late last year in celebration of the credit union industry exceeding 100 million members. What a milestone. But when I was looking at the September 2014 numbers (the latest ones available at the time), I put down the bubbly and reached for the coffee. The growth is coming from the largest credit unions, with the nation’s largest representing almost one in five new members.

My other blog, The Credit Union Marketer, examines this story. Tell me what you think.


Making Financial Cooperatives Successful in an Uncooperative World

This pretty much some up what has been my professional endeavor for over 30 years. So, I made it the brand promise of my newly updated blog The Credit Union Marketer. While I consider myself a credit union person, one who fully supports the not-for-profit financial cooperative mantra, it is becoming increasingly clear that many marketers are backing away from using this as a differentiator. I understand why and decades of my focus group sessions can provide plenty of supporting comments from consumers.

But I can’t give up on that message, because it is completely unique and valuable in the financial services market. What do you think?



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