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Servus Credit Union launches $1 million Big Share initiative.

This spring, Servus Credit Union (365,402 members, $15.9 billion in assets) is giving people a million more reasons to join the financial institution.

As part of the new initiative, Alberta-based Servus is encouraging people to save by offering a $1 million draw prize to one lucky member. The campaign, titled The Big Share, ran from January to April, with the winner being announced this June. All Servus members received one entry for every $1 of profit sharing they received at the end of 2018, and additional entries were given for every $500 a member added to their saving accounts during the contest period. (This past December, Servus’s website stated that members received a record $52.4 million through the credit union’s annual Profit Share program. The sum included $30.6 million in patronage — Profit Share Rewards cash — $18.1 million in common share dividends and $5.2 million in investment share dividends.)

The initiative has been embraced by Servus members. “The response from the public so far has been great. Many were in complete disbelief,” says Servus COO Dion Linke. “We actually had one member who wanted to thank us for encouraging him to invest in himself, which for me perfectly articulates what this initiative is trying to achieve,” Linke says.

The primary goal of the campaign is to incentivise member savings, which is what inspired such a large prize windfall. Executives at Servus wanted to ensure they picked a substantial enough amount that would inspire members to act and start saving their money, Linke says. “We looked at different amounts but the million-dollar threshold is a number that we felt would actually make people step up and start saving their money, when they otherwise may not have.”

Along with a desire to help members save, The Big Share was born out of innovation. The decision process for the campaign was a collaborative effort, rather than a singular idea from out of the blue. “The idea came about through a lot of different conversations; there wasn’t one particular person who initiated it,” says Linke. The biggest driving factor was looking for ways to help members achieve their goals and shape their financial fitness, he adds.

Aside from supporting and benefitting the member base, The Big Share has also been a great way to increase public awareness for Servus and attract new members. The initiative, in fact, has brought with it a new wave of consumers looking to bank with the credit union. “We have seen an increase in our membership growth, which is signalling that there are new members coming to Servus as a result of this initiative,” says Linke. “We’ll know more once we get to the end of the campaign but the initial reports are positive in terms of its success.”

The campaign also helps highlight the key difference between credit unions and banks — profit-sharing. The Big Share campaign is designed to give back to Servus’s member-owners, a business model something many members of the general public aren’t aware of.

If there was ever a worry that individuals might walk in, open an account for the sake of winning the prize money and never use it again, that fear is diminished by Servus’s upstanding relationship with their members. “Our loyalty scores are really strong, our member satisfaction is really strong, so we’re confident that when members come in and start interacting with our team, they’re going to want to stay,” says Linke.

In terms of whether the initiative will make an appearance again in the future, or even become an ongoing tradition, that’s still unsure and greatly dependant on the success of this first run, Linke adds. ◊