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Top 5 Tools of 2020

Check out the Top 5 tools downloaded by credit unions in 2020.

The COVID-19 crisis merely accelerated the trends in technology and changes in consumer behaviors we saw coming on the horizon. In 2020 it became clear that it was no longer an option to put off innovation for another day. We all needed to shift how we worked.

Filene takes research to the next level to support you and your credit union with immediately implementable and actionable resources. Download and share the Top 5 Tools, backed by our research, that credit unions like yours used to navigate this past year to prepare for 2021.

5. Support Consumer Engagement Toolkit

Millions of people in the U.S. struggle to pay their bills, save for the future, and access affordable financial services. These challenges are exacerbated in households of color, particularly for Latino/a and Black residents. In 2015, Filene launched the Reaching Minority Households (RMH) Incubator to explore and test the possibility for financial institutions like credit unions and community banks to reach and support financially vulnerable households and communities of color. In 2020, Filene released a qualitative study, "Pathways to Financial Well-being," sharing the experiences of 20 individuals who participated in the Incubator and developed a model for how financial institutions can better support consumers in achieving financial well-being.

This collection of tools was built to help credit union staff better understand the needs of the consumers they serve and empower them to pursue a pathway to financial well-being. The tools included here can expand on your existing consumer support operations, documents, processes, and technologies with the ultimate goal of empowering your members to take one step forward in navigating their journey to financial well-being through deeper engagement and by building long-term relationships with their financial institution.

Toolkit to Support Consumer Engagement

4. Storytelling Toolkit and Implementation Guide

Why stories? Storytelling is the oldest and most powerful form of communication. In a world of 7-second attention spans, effective storytelling can create an emotional connection and avid interest. When we share stories, both the storyteller and the listener become more connected than they were before. Stories help us communicate, to reflect on how we’re similar and appreciate how we’re different. They give us a sense of belonging, and through the act of telling a story, both the storyteller and listener are changed.

This guide will walk you through how to identify and craft your story arch, propose questions to ask your subject when gathering story details, outline an example with effective storytelling elements, give a template to use for your story layout, and leave you with next steps for maximizing impact with your story.

Credit Union Storytelling Toolkit and Implementation Guide

3. Road Map to Activating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The first report from Filene's new Center of Excellence for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion identified the changing landscape of the cooperative finance industry and the opportunity for a competitive advantage within credit unions by leveraging the potential of DEI to fulfill organizational mission and achieve business goals. DEI can bring both benefits and challenges and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

This road map helps your credit union identify and establish the conditions for leveraging the potential of DEI. Once you have completed these first steps, your credit union can then dive deeper along the three pathways: personal, operational, and organizational.

The Road Map to Activating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

2. Developing Your New Business Model Worksheet

In Filene’s “The Credit Union of the Twenty-First Century” report, readers were introduced to the socioeconomic and technology trends that shaped the creation of four new business models. Many of those identified trends were then accelerated when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Like many of you, Filene's research needed to pivot to reflect these changes, and did so in a special research series called, "Credit Unions and the Coronavirus: Notes on the Impacts and Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis."

Using the exploratory questions in this worksheet, you can identify your main business and service priorities going forward—where should your credit union land on the interaction axis? Should you focus on high-touch member service, or low level, largely automated interactions? What type of provider should you aspire to be for members? As you set your course for future growth and improving member well-being, position your credit union to thrive no matter the uncertainties and potential futures that lay ahead.

Developing Your New Business Model Worksheet

1. Organizational Friction Workshop

Workplace inefficiency, miscommunication, and disengagement are often the result of organizational friction, and friction is the result of perverse incentive structures, misaligned rules and cultural norms, and a failure to value the work of maintaining shared organizational resources. Organizational friction in workplaces is familiar and immediately recognizable in its symptoms: frustration, helplessness, and ultimately defeat. But where friction comes from and how to combat it are less well understood. 

The Filene report "Friction: A Manifesto" builds on our understanding of the effects of organizational friction as either good or bad. This guide will help you consider the underlying causes, effects, and cures of organizational friction in order to better understand how to make the important things easier to do (and the unimportant things harder to do) in ways that do not exhaust your staff. Bring your team together and identify underlying structural causes of bad friction, and the strategies to help you adjust.

Organizational Friction Workshop Guide


Check out our most recent tool showing credit unions how to leverage gamification to engage and motivate members to perform specified activities or change the behavior of a targeted group. Use this Remixing Gamification Activity Guide to apply game thinking to problems at your credit union and create your own gamified solutions that best meet the needs of your members and credit union.