A credit union marketing director recently asked me why we created a credit union kids club. The answer requires a little background.
My wife and I wanted to raise our kids to be money-smart. We had a clear, homegrown mission from the start. Our hunch was that money-smart education is best when started early in life. My initial research confirmed that making money-smart learning fun for kids was not only a sensible, but also a novel way to immerse kids in a subject many consider boring.
We created The Money Mammals DVD, “Saving Money Is Fun,” to spread the message that sharing, saving and spending smart can be fun. We crafted the message to resonate with kids, parents and teachers.
Shortly thereafter, The Money Mammals and I decided to hit the road and spread the word that money-smart learning is fun! Having recently joined the K-12 financial literacy organization Jump$tart Coalition, we announced our inaugural live tour to the Jump$tart partners via their quarterly newsletter back in 2006. Rogue Credit Union , a Jump$tart partner, saw our post and contacted us.
Rogue invited The Money Mammals LIVE to Medford, Oregon, to entertain and educate the folks of Medford, I initially thought. Little did I know that they had another objective. I told the folks at Rogue that The Money Mammals would love to come to the Beaver State. (We’d never deny another mammal access to financial education!) What I didn’t mention at the time was that they were the ONLY stop! Voila, our first tour was a GO!
Our smart, energetic and entertaining puppeteers and I introduced kids to financial literacy with our interactive, live experience. That’s when Rogue dropped the “coconut” and let me in on the real reason for having us visit Medford. They wanted us to help them improve their own credit union youth account program.
Sure, Rogue wanted to see how the kids reacted to Joe the Monkey, Piggs the Bank and the rest of the gang. But, they were pursuing a bigger idea — a Money Mammals-themed credit union kids club — for Rogue Credit Union youth account holders.
Rogue’s kids program had grown old and tired. Kids were largely disengaged. After seeing The Money Mammals in action (especially after seeing the kids’ reaction to Joe the Monkey), they knew a kids club that was designed not only to help them open credit union youth accounts but also to educate families would be a very effective way to re-engage the community.
I realized that a credit union kids club would be a huge undertaking. Additionally, although I had joined a credit union in college, I didn’t know much about the credit union movement. With Rogue’s enthusiasm and our research and growing experience, we developed a credit union youth club that could not only be customized for not only for Rogue but also for credit unions nationwide.
And, here’s why:
The Credit Union Difference
The most obvious reason for The Money Mammals to partner with credit unions is the credit union difference. We were excited to work with institutions dedicated to the betterment of their members (the owners), especially since The Money Mammals offered something different — a real chance to connect with families by helping educate their kids with a subject that is arguably as important as reading and writing. Really! What is more practical than financial literacy?
Credit unions are firmly established as trusted resources in their communities. The trust has only grown since the huge groundswell of support during the second half of the Great Recession. They are on the leading edge of a movement gaining steam. Our missions matched!
People Helping People
The credit union movement uses the phrase “people helping people” to sum up what they’re about. They are socially conscious institutions. This is very appealing to The Money Mammals, as we are also focused on giving back and helping others.
Driven by that same ethos, we are able to provide better resources aimed at achieving the goal of “people helping people” by partnering with credit unions.
The Money Mammals program began to expand far beyond the original DVD to help even more people. We now have books, apps, a step-by-step kit for families, guides for teachers and resources galore that are now found in homes and classrooms across the country.
And, we’re still not done! As long as kids want to learn, parents want to teach and credit unions remain committed to their “people helping people” philosophy, we will continue to grow with them.
Financial Education for Members
Finally, member financial education is the driving force behind the credit union movement. Although financial education was originally intended to be for established adults, research points to the importance of giving kids experience with money from a young age .
In fact, more credit union marketers and educators now recognize that a kids club helps them reach kids and their families with money-smart messages. A club helps expand the reach of this key tenet of the credit union movement.
Just as each credit union builds itself on a legacy of success, The Money Mammals contribute to and expand upon the guidance previously taught by others. Although we weren’t the first to promote three Share, Save and Spend jars, we did add the “Smart” (the thinking component) to that constantly compelling consumption (Spend) jar. We weren’t the first to bring financial literacy to kids, but we were the first to incorporate a cast of characters to which boys and girls (not to mention pigs and monkeys) can relate.
More importantly, we were the first to bring the idea of money-smart fun and multi-dimensional, three-jar thinking to credit union youth accounts. It’s no surprise that the growing credit union and youth money-smart movements are bound together, and The Money Mammals are tremendously proud to play a role.
So, what’s the short answer to why we created a credit union kids club? Because a credit union asked us to do it. And we’re so grateful they did.