Credit unions have a long history of supporting local communities through charity work, community outreach, and other initiatives. By providing this support to the people and businesses in their area, the credit union can help reinforce their image as the friendly, local alternative to big national banks.
However, these efforts can be extremely expensive and time-consuming for credit unions without the right support. In this article, we’ll explore how one credit union drastically improved the performance of its community outreach program with the help of Prisma.
Meet Oregonians Credit Union
Oregonians Credit Union was founded in 1936 to serve federal, state, and county employees of Northwest Oregon. Now, almost a century later, Oregonians CU has expanded to serve additional neighboring counties, opened its doors to all members of the community, and hopes to continue fueling healthy growth by providing top-tier financial products and services to all.
Since 2011, Oregonians has funded an annual scholarship program that gives four deserving local students funds to help them pursue higher education. As tuition continues to rise for colleges and universities, this scholarship program has become an even more important part of the overall community outreach strategy for Oregonians.
However, the credit union was having trouble getting the word out, and even more trouble collecting and reviewing applications. From 2016-2020, the scholarship program averaged only 16 applicants per year. Applicants were required to fill out a paper application, and then mail it in or drop it off at one of the branches. The Oregonians’ staff then needed to scan, review, and physically record all of the applications and supporting documents in order to start the process.
For Oregonians, the scholarship program represented a commitment to their members and the next generation of college students. To revamp the program, a number of changes had to occur in how the application was formatted, distributed, collected, and processed.
Oregonians’ previous experience working with Prisma gave them the confidence that Prisma’s solutions would align with their overall strategy and existing technology stack. By integrating previously collected data into the new campaign, Oregonians started the scholarship outreach program with an established audience and the means to reach them.
Oregonians also shifted their campaign advertising to digital. Previously, paper postcards had been used to inform prospective students about the scholarship opportunity. With Prisma’s help, Oregonians was able to more narrowly define their audience members and reach them more quickly.
Integrating Prisma’s technology also allowed Oregonians to shift the entire application process to a digital format. Not only was this more in line with the expectations and needs of emerging college students, but it also doubled as an effective countermeasure against abandonment. Because the progress of applications could now be reliably tracked, Oregonians could distribute reminder emails to those who had not opened or finished their application. Prisma’s file uploader feature also made it simple for applicants to attach transcripts, identification, and other materials needed to complete the application process.
Collection & Review
Digital submission allowed Oregonians to implement automatic scoring on portions of the application. This helped to speed the process up, as well as eliminate ineligible applicants automatically. The form also automatically forwarded transcripts and essays in a separate email for review by Oregonians’ staff, removing the need for tedious scanning and filing.
The reworked scholarship program was a resounding success. Both applicants and Oregonians’ staff reported that the new application process was substantially easier, with particular emphasis coming from Oregonians’ own marketing department. Distributing the scholarships has become a rewarding experience rather than a hassle for the credit union.
In its first year, the new Prisma scholarship application saw 53 conversions from 81 qualified applicants, representing a 330% increase in applications from the previous year. The new email outreach campaign saw an open rate of around 50%, and the reminder emails for those who had not finished their application saw an almost 90% open rate. Overall, the email campaign produced around 60% of the total applicants.
Oregonians also massively cut back on the amount of time and manpower dedicated to reviewing and grading applications. The credit union reported that they had reduced post-campaign processing time by 87%, saving them and the applicants valuable time.
Oregonians is confident that, with this new campaign, they will be able to expand the scholarship program in the coming years, rewarding more tuition money to a larger number of applicants. To see a complete breakdown of the campaign and the results achieved for Oregonians, you can read the case study. If your organization is in need of marketing automation, personalized campaigns, and comprehensive strategy, schedule a demo with Prisma today and see what we can do for you
Image credit: Adobe Stock