Resource Hub

Helping credit unions support members and build business resiliency during the COVID-19 crisis.

What do we know without question right now? We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating unprecedented challenges for credit unions and the communities they serve. Filene is here to help. As a think tank, when we find ourselves immersed in a time of uncertainty, we think clearly about what we know, what our data shows and what’s revealed in the patterns that can point us toward answers. Uncertainty does not shake our focus. We think forward. We help organizations like yours change lives.

We are focusing our resources, ideas and networks to help credit unions maximize their impact on members’ financial and physical well-being.

This event is great for Finance and Human Resources leaders.


Art & Science of Organization
Virtual Event
June 16-17, 2020

Join us on June 16-17 for "The Art & Science of Organization." This virtual event brings together research from our Centers of Excellence for Operations and Talent with Filene Fellow Sekou Bermiss to explore the link between people and organizations.

Speaking with boards and executives in recent weeks, most feel unequipped for what they’re going through–let alone what might come next. Matt Fullbrook lays out four recommendations for how credit union boards can lead during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Optimize your board's effectiveness at working remotely
  • Make sure your CEO has the support they need
  • Learn from your peers
  • Be a source of calm

Crisis Management and Remote Work for Credit Union Boards
by Matt Fullbrook, University of Toronto

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way boards function. We can no longer assume that the role of a director is inherently “part-time.”Boards must work diligently to understand what members need–financially and otherwise–to get through this crisis and thrive once it’s over. Here are four ways to do just that.

Filene Fellow Dr. Sekou Bermiss outlines several things that credit unions leaders can do to help make this forced transition a bit easier.

  • Understand differences across team members
  • Reorganize and reprioritize
  • Closely manage synchronicity
  • And more...

Managing Remote Work at Your Credit Union
By Dr. Sekou Bermiss, University of Texas at Austin and Filene Fellow

Credit unions have always made their employees a top priority, and now this includes supporting their employees as they transition to remote work. Filene Fellow Sekou Bermiss shares insights that credit unions leaders can do to adapt to new workflows, foster virtual connections and help advance your mission.

Filene Fellow Dr. Quinetta Roberson, of Villanova University, breaks down the two different components to social distancing and shares the three key ways leaders can foster a sense of inclusion among their team members.

  1. Create a cooperative culture
  2. Reduce status differences in the team
  3. Encourage members' meaningful contributions

How to Be an Inclusive Leader During a Pandemic
By Dr. Quinetta Roberson, Villanova University and Filene Fellow

Inclusivity may seem contradictory to what we have been told, which is to socially distance ourselves from others. But a sense of connection and community strengthens an organization’s capacity for weathering and rebounding from a crisis such as the one we are facing. As we attempt to focus on achieving business goals, there are three key ways to foster a sense of inclusion among your team members.

We’ll help your credit union think through the right strategies and take the right actions now to thrive in a more secure future.

Speakers from inside and outside the credit union industry shared the latest insights into:

  • Competing and winning on member experience
  • High-touch meets digital first
  • Digital value
  • Reducing member anxiety
  • Sharing the member experience through storytelling in a business setting

The New Credit Union Experience
Research Event Recap

The focus of credit union’s work will always be about understanding the needs of members now, while taking actions to deliver a better future. We brought academics and experts together virtually to consider this unique new challenge and the opportunities for credit unions to deliver an experience members will remember long into the future.

Early insights from Filene Fellow Bill Maurer's ongoing research:

  • Use technology to improve human-based service delivery
  • Put technology to work in facilitating curb-side services
  • Use remote channels to facilitate member communication preferences
  • Find ways to bridge “digital divides”
  • Double down on demonstrating empathy for members and employees

Digital Transformation in the Age of COVID-19: What Should Credit Unions Deliver?
by Filene Fellow Bill Maurer and Scott Mainwaring

The old era of neighborhood branch gathering places no longer looks tenable as a new era dawns of self- and curbside-service, constant online connectivity, and conversation in virtual spaces. Here are five short-term opportunities to leverage technology while maintaining the credit union philosophy of people helping people.

    Learn how your credit union can rise to the challenges of:

    • addressing member anxiety and trust
    • acceleration of digital services
    • in-person service delivery in this new environment

    The Evolution of Service Delivery Under COVID-19
    by Elry Armaza

    While great uncertainties remain, we can already see clear service delivery trends emerging in financial services. This piece suggests a number of immediate changes for credit unions to consider when adjusting their service delivery during COVID-19.

      Review these resources, smart strategies and tactics with your marketing team.

      • Conduct your own (virtual) market research
      • Review your website and be present digitally
      • Listen to your members and align what you do with who you serve
      • Redraw you member journeys
      • Build trust with your online banking tools

      Marketing Gets the Volume Turned Up in Times of Crisis
      by Holly Fearing

      There is no risk-free path for your marketing efforts right now, but laying low until the dust settles helps no one. How your credit union communicates is crucial in times of crisis. Your impact stands to grow bigger. Reassess your marketing strategies and reach further and change more people’s lives for the better.

      Use this guide, the links within, and the data therein to help you and your credit union better quantify, understand, and navigate short-term macroeconomic upheavals by reviewing the following measures of macroeconomic conditions:

      • Economic growth
      • Unemployment rate
      • Inflation rate
      • Leading Economic Index
      • Initial unemployment claims
      • Dow Jones Industrial Average

      A Beginners’ Guide to Macroeconomics
      Luis Dopico, Elry Armaza and Freddy Zhao

      Brush up on your Economics 101 with a brief refresher to keep you informed about macroeconomic conditions, their short-term upheavals, and the long-term trends in their local, regional, national, and, increasingly, even international economies. We also provide links to key sources of macroeconomic data that Filene uses and trusts.

      It remains unclear what type of recovery will emerge from the recession precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the “new normal,” whatever it may be, may end up looking much like the world we are experiencing today, in the midst of the pandemic.

      At the same time, our imagination is also a force of change in its own right and can therefore also be a force for good. This is especially true in moments like this one, because in unsettling times, what we think shapes what we do, and what we do shapes the world around us.

      Credit Unions and the Coronavirus: Notes on the Impacts and Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis
      by Taylor C. Nelms and Stephen C. Rea

      In this three-part Special Report, Taylor C. Nelms and Stephen C. Rea provide preliminary analysis of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on workers and consumers, and the implications it bears for credit unions. Part one reviews evidence as of April 2020 and describes likely consequences going forward.

        Filene shares insights from the "Future of the Call Center” Summit to help credit unions improve service delivery and renew their focus. These five lessons from our pre-crisis environment remain relevant:

        • Self-service
        • Personalization
        • Automation
        • Empower call center agents 
        • Leverage partners

        Call Centers as the New Front Lines
        by Erin Coleman and Paul Dionne

        In this moment of deep uncertainty and constant fluidity, credit union call centers are serving as a lifeline to members who are afraid, worried and confused. Now is the time when our empathy superpower, paired with technology, enables and amplifies our call centers to calm the nerves of members, understand their concerns, and provide solutions as quickly as possible.

          Our research fellow for the Center of Excellence for Emerging Technology, Bill Maurer of UC-Irvine returns to another episode of our podcast with Dr. Joan Donovan, Director of the Technology and Social Change Research Project at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, to share how credit unions can:

          • Serve as a trusted resource for information.
          • Dispel misinformation.
          • Share local and accurate information that is useful and reassuring to their members.

          Managing Misinformation in the Midst of a Pandemic
          Podcast with Filene Fellow Bill Maurer and Dr. Joan Donovan

          In this episode of the Filene Fill-In, we discuss what credit unions can do to combat the spread of disinformation and misinformation, and sustain the level of trust they’ve built with their communities and their members. Plus, we share resources and talk about some tangible ways credit unions can deal with the spread of misinformation if it is happening on their digital and social platforms.

          Read more on these ideas for how credit unions can get involved:

          • Find out if there are mutual-aid networks in your community and see if you can help.
          • Identify members' greatest financial risks and explore whether members can help each other address them.
          • Set up a digital space where members can find each other and interact.
          • Develop collaborative experiments with fellow credit unions and other organizations.
          • Prepare for the long haul.

          How Credit Unions Can Spur Mutual Support in a Pandemic
          by Nathan Schneider and Taylor C. Nelms

          The spirit of mutuality is alive in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic crisis. As an industry we can find creative ways for credit union members to help each other, while contributing to the health of their credit union in the process. Let this challenging period guide your credit union to rediscover its mission and the ingenuity of its members.

          Filene has done some due diligence and identified partners that can help meet the extremely urgent needs of your members and employees.

          • QCash
          • CuneXus
          • TrueConnect

          Small-Dollar Lending Solutions
          Solutions for your members and your employees

          With community members filing for unemployment insurance in the millions due to our uncertain circumstances, there is an urgent need to rapidly scale quality lending options for those hit the hardest. These financial providers work with credit unions to offer rapid implementation of emergency small-dollar lending services.

          The following resources will help you serve your members in their time of need while keeping your balance sheet in good standing:

          • Are You Prepared? Get Your Credit Union and Members Ready for Recession
          • Exercise Caution
          • Oh Shoot! Now What? Technology in a Time of Crisis
          • Are you Leading Through the Crisis… Or Managing the Response?
          • You’re Not Powerless in the Face of Uncertainty
          • Cooperative Comebacks: Resilience in the Face of the Hurricane Katrina Catastrophe
          • Katrina 10 Years After: Lessons from Credit Unions and Banks

          Navigating Uncertainty: Next Steps in Recession and Disaster Planning
          By Paul Dionne, Filene Research Project Manager

          Filene has sourced a wealth of research to help you identify and execute effective strategies to position your credit union for today and into an uncertain future. This collection shows that during previous economic crises many financial services providers pulled back while credit unions surged ahead to serve their members. Dust off those contingency plans, adjust forecasts and take action. 

          Explore these six things your credit union can do now to set your members and your organization on a path of financial well-being:

          • let your net worth work
          • skip-a-pay and deferments 
          • fee, overdraft/non-sufficient funds, late payment, and other waivers 
          • emergency loans 
          • mortgage loan re-amortizations 
          • appoint a historian

          Helping Members in Response to COVID-19: First Steps
          By Mike Higgins, Mike Higgins & Associates

          Explore this list of six strategic things your credit union can do now to maximize your support to serve members' most pressing financial needs. Use the worksheet included to run your own numbers to help think through a loan fund for your credit union and set your members and your organization on a path of financial well-being.

          Credit unions have an opportunity to support their members and communities by implementing programs that aid financial well-being. It is the right thing to do, and it is one way to differentiate your organization in your community.

          This toolkit includes:

          • Quick Assessment: ask consumers a series of questions to understand their immediate needs and long-term goals
          • Financial Landscape Map: create a visual depiction of the consumer's current financial state in a financial landscape map
          • Reflective Timeline Exercise: create a visual timeline based on one of the consumer's financial well-being goals to motivate the consumer and track progress towards that goal

          Pathways to Financial Well-being: Consumer Engagement Toolkit
          Tools to empower financial well-being of members

          This toolkit originates from the Pathways to Financial Well-being: Qualitative Findings from the Reaching Minority Households Incubator project. This collection of three tools is for financial institution staff to use directly with consumers to better understand their needs and empower them to pursue a pathway to financial well-being. 

          The credit union system, by itself, cannot bridge these disparities. But with partners like Coopera Consulting, who are in close contact with these communities, credit unions can get the insights they need to make an impact.

          1. Provide vulnerable groups reliable, trustworthy and up-to-date information.
          2. Be repetitive in your communications so that frequency extends your reach.
          3. Plan in two-week increments and be ready to adapt quickly.
          4. Recognize that inclusion is more than simply access.

          Inclusion Matters: The Impacts of the COVID-19 Crisis on Black and Latino/a Americans
          by Victor Corro and Taylor C. Nelms

          Our news feeds are full of distressing stories and data points about the disproportionate harms the virus is inflicting on the vulnerable, marginalized and minoritized. Inclusion is the secret ingredient to service excellence because financial inclusion starts with understanding differences in the needs, expectations, and experiences of members.

            Filene has published over 500 research reports over three decades.

            The archive is both deep and wide. Single studies give us important data points about a given phenomenon. Putting multiple studies into conversation, however, allows us to connect the dots, corroborate our findings, and track trends over time. So, we are assembling curated collections of research reports on selected topics, providing you with a more comprehensive and strategic overview and giving you the resources that you need to make evidence-based business decisions.

            Supporting Financial Well-being of Credit Union Members and Employees
            Curated research collectio
            n

            This curated collection of Filene research reports provides background and insights on financial supports for employees and credit union members and provides direction for credit unions wishing to further efforts to support and enhance the financial well-being of members and employees.

            From Short-Term Savings to Sustainable Financial Security

            This online tool takes the form of a short survey. After completing the survey, members are provided a summary of their plan through a website that is generated specifically for them.

            The tool does not collect any private or sensitive data. The website summary members receive after completing the tool is temporary and does not contain private or sensitive data.

            A COVID-19 Stimulus Check Planning Tool for Credit Union Members
            by Emory Nelms and Taylor C. Nelms

            For millions of Americans, the stimulus checks represent a necessary financial windfall for households to replace lost income and to address immediate needs. Credit unions have an opportunity to engage with their members directly and prompt them to plan ahead for how to use their stimulus checks. The Common Cents Lab at Duke University has created a free COVID-19 Stimulus Check Planning Tool you can offer directly to their members.

            For DV survivors from marginalized communities, the pandemic exacerbates systemic inequalities, which add to the financial harm caused by their abusive partners. Low-wage workers are more likely to lose income as businesses scale back or shut down during the pandemic, and occupations employing low-wage workers are dominated by women and people of color. These groups are more likely to face barriers to traditional lending, necessitating reliance on high-cost “fringe banking” options to meet their emergency financial needs.

            Credit unions can help reduce the economic harm DV survivors face during and in the aftermath of this pandemic by taking steps today.

            Credit Union Support for DV Survivors During COVID-19 and Beyond
            by Adrienne Adams, Angela Littwin, Yvette Butler, Veronica Quinonez

            To protect against COVID-19, Americans are told to “stay home, stay safe.” But what if your home is not safe? Instead of safety, staying home means physical and verbal assaults. And, it means contending with a global economic crisis while facing financial exploitation at the hands of an intimate partner. Credit unions can play a vital part in easing the economic burden of COVID-19 on domestic violence survivors.

            Because an “economic downturn caused by the current COVID-19 outbreak has substantial implications for gender equality, both during the downturn and the subsequent recovery", women’s experiences should be at the center of our analysis. The challenges for mission-oriented financial services providers will be immense. Services for women hustlepreneurs have to contend with racial differences in income, wealth, credit access, and networks. Despite these challenges, this is also a time of great opportunity for mission-oriented financial service organizations to forge strong relationships with underserved communities. Two areas of interest have emerged from research literature and field notes.


            What the Pandemic Means for Women in the Hustle Economy
            by Tressie McMillan Cottom, Virginia Commonwealth University

            The COVID-19 crisis will be brutal for non-wage workers in the hustle economy because of their shared risk position: their economic activity is necessary for their financial well-being, but it does not afford them job-related protections. For women, the risks are especially acute. Learn about the challenges and opportunities for these 15-33 million non-wage workers known as hustlepreneurs.

            A nod to our namesake Ed Filene and his retail store Filene's Basement, "In the Basement with Filene" brings your organization weekly updates and resources during this crisis from Filene's George Hofheimer, EVP + Chief Research + Development Officer.

            This week's key points:

            1. On relief. Credits unions across the globe have been doing amazing deeds other financial institutions either can’t or won’t do.
            2. On recovery. Focusing efforts around your unique skills will likely win the day. Control what you can control and don’t get too overwhelmed.
            3. On reform. See opportunity in turbulent times and find their next growth curve.

            May 27, 2020 Weekly Update
            In the Basement with Filene

            This will be the final week of this video series as we shift into a notably different phase of the global pandemic. Borrowing from FDR’s language during the Great Depression...we are exiting the era of immediate relief and entering the recovery phase. Thereafter, we will focus on longer-term reform, and hopefully, enter a period of dynamic resurgence.

            This week's key points:

            1. Sign up for our webinar on May 21, Enhance Financial Well-being of Members and Employees
            2. Reflect on the findings from the webinar 
            3. Experiment with relevant insights from all of these resources

            May 20, 2020 Weekly Update
            In the Basement with Filene

            This week we take a look at the evolution of service. Filene published a thoughtful blog on this topic, we'll be releasing a step by step guide for your team to help improve your members’ well-being through service delivery innovation, and Filene recently bundled all of our historical research on financial wellness to remind you of the myriad topics to consider as you serve your members in today’s environment.

            This week's key points:

            1. Continue to keep an eye on the changing macro economic environment.
            2. Put innovation on the front burner to solve for emerging consumer needs.
            3. Start testing new concepts now to solve for your members' problems.

            May 13, 2020 Weekly Update
            In the Basement with Filene

            This week we examine innovation and testing in a rapidly changing world. First, a report on the current US macroeconomic trends. Next, our friends at PSCU release the 2020 CU Innovation Index. Finally, we talk about the importance of testing in today’s environment.

            This week's key points:

            1. Empower your staff with clear information and the authority to make quick decisions.
            2. Think in short-term increments, especially as reality and situations change.
            3. And the most important, keep purpose constant. Credit unions were made for this crazy world we are currently living in.

            May 6, 2020 Weekly Update
            In the Basement with Filene

            This week we examine emerging issues for credit unions as a result of the pandemic. First, a special report on the impacts and implication of the current crisis. Next, the increasing importance of call centers as a delivery channel. Finally, the importance of inclusion.

            This week's key points when it comes to the member experience:

            1. Ensure your members are compatible with your credit union’s offerings/capabilities.
            2. As we move to a more digital world, create operational transparency around how decisions are made and products are designed. 
            3. Put self-service technology into your service culture as a value-added feature.

            April 29, 2020 Weekly Update
            In the Basement with Filene

            This week we take a break from talking about impacts from the COVID-19 crisis, and instead shares thoughts about "the new credit union experience." Filene’s Center of Excellence for Organizational Entrepreneurship was featured in our virtual research event this week with Filene Fellow and Harvard Business School professor Dennis Campbell.

            This week's key points...run (do not walk) to solve the needs of your most vulnerable members:

            1. Sprint to provide relief through programs like loan forbearances, skip a pay programs and short term loans.
            2. Scurry over to your current assumptions and determine what needs to change as you prepare your members for their mid-term recovery.
            3. Jog over to your strategy to ensure the long-term stability of your members’ needs are kept in mind through updated tactics plans.

            April 22, 2020 Weekly Update
            In the Basement with Filene

            This week we talk about disparate impacts and our newest research fellow Dr. Lisa Servon, shares many consumers are experiencing a huge transition in their financial life and urges credit unions to recognize this big moment of change and come up with new ways of serving your members.

            This week's key points:

            1. Over 60% of Americans are currently working from home and another study estimates 37% of all jobs in the United States could be conducted remotely after the Pandemic.
            2. Get your gears moving differently.
            3. Start by training your staff, over communicate, reorganize and reprioritize.

            April 15, 2020 Weekly Update
            In the Basement with Filene

            This week we talk about you and your people. Our research fellow on War for Talent issues, Sekou Bermiss, a professor from the University of Texas, urges credit unions to adapt to new workflows and foster virtual connections.

            This week's key points:

            1. 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance over the past two weeks resulting in an estimated 13% unemployment rate.
            2. Focus on the urgent short-term cash flow needs of Americans.
            3. Do not get buried in status quo, now is the time to differentiate.

            April 8, 2020 Weekly Update
            In the Basement with Filene

            Welcome to the first edition of In the Basement with Filene! Each week, Filene's George Hofheimer will bring you an icon, a relevant statistic and provide an opportunity for credit unions to respond to that statistic.

            Take a look at the webinar materials from Enhance the Financial Well-being of Members and Employees:

            Enhance the Financial Well-being of Members and Employees
            Hosted on May 21, 2020

            Review the webinar materials on how you can communicate, measure, and design for diversity to enhance the financial well-being of your members and employees.

            Review the webinar materials from Doing Research Differently: How Filene's Incubator Helps Credit Unions:

            • recording and presentation from the webinar
            • let us know what you would like to see tested
            • start testing today by evaluating three fintech companies

            Doing Research Differently: How Filene's Incubator Helps Credit Unions
            Hosted on May 14, 2020

            Review the webinar materials and learn how Filene brings research to life through our Incubator. Our incubation program can help accelerate innovation within your credit union and reduce the front end risk of testing new products and ideas.

            Take a look at the webinar materials from Measuring COVID-19 Impact: Your Financial Performance Projection:

            • recording and presentation from the webinar
            • contact information for Mike Higgins of Mike Higgins & Associates if you want to learn more about using the tool presented to run a net income simulation for your credit union

            Measuring COVID-19 Impact: Your Financial Performance Projection
            Hosted on May 6, 2020

            Review the webinar materials from our discussion with Mike Higgins of Mike Higgins & Associates on a financial modeling projection tool to help your credit union see the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to your credit union's balance sheet.

            Big moments of change - from the expected to the unexpected - reveal the underlying conditions that have weakened household balance sheets. Credit unions, in order to better serve their members, need ways to see into the shifting environment around them.
            Dr. Lisa Servon, Filene Fellow

            When Filene launched the Center of Excellence for Consumer Financial Lives in Transition at the end of February, we could not have imagined how deeply relevant this topic would be in the midst of what we’re experiencing around the world today.

            Navigating New Forms of Economic Fragility
            Hosted on April 23, 2020

            Review the webinar materials from our discussion into the two kinds of “transitions” that come together to shape and re-shape people’s financial lives: shifts in the economic and political environment and lifecycle/style changes as people transition from life event to life event.

            Take a look at the webinar materials from Remote Work in a New World: Business as Unusual now:

            • recording and presentation from the webinar
            • Dr. Sekou Bremiss' blog Managing Remote Work at Your Credit Union
            • Matt Fullbrook's blog Crisis Management and Remote Work for Credit Union Boards

            Remote Work in a New World: Business as Unusual
            Hosted on April 16, 2020

            Review the webinar materials on how to smooth the transition to remote work for all three prongs of your organization: employees, management and Board. 

            Take a look at the webinar materials from Part Two of Maximize Your Support to Address Members' Needs Now:

            • recording and presentation from the webinar
            • liquidity worksheet to help you calculate a loan fund for your credit union
            • Mike Higgins' blog Helping Members in Response to COVID-19
            • let us know your interest in implementing small-dollar lending solutions - we're here to help!

            Part Two: Maximize Your Support to Address Members' Needs Now
            Hosted on April 9, 2020

            Review the webinar materials on the current state of small-dollar lending, emergency funding, net worth assessments and opportunities for credit unions to support members' greatest needs during this time of uncertainty. We've got recommendations for how your organization can effectively act now to support your members.

            Take a look at the webinar materials from Part One of Maximize Your Support to Address Members' Needs Now:

            • recording and presentation from the webinar
            • liquidity worksheet to help you calculate a loan fund for your credit union
            • Filene's current analysis of credit union programs
            • let us know your interest in implementing small-dollar lending solutions - we're here to help!

            Part One: Maximize Your Support to Address Members' Needs Now
            Hosted on April 2, 2020

            Review the webinar materials on how to assess your own credit union's liquidity to know what's possible, how to implement a small-dollar loan program that would give your members the safety net they need and how taking action now will build long-term loyalty with your entire community.