Credit unions have always been known for their generosity in giving back, especially in times of trouble. As financial first responders, credit unions are a strong source of support for members, essential institutions and workers, and the greater community.
Norstar Federal Credit Union (Norstar) located in Britton, is part of this great tradition. “Norstar gives back because it’s the right thing to do,” says Jane Duerre, CEO. “We share our success with our members and our community because we believe that the more successful, we are, the more we should give back,” she added.
As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, Norstar’s earnings are returned to its members in the form of dividends, lower interest rates on loans, and higher interest rates on savings. This is a very different business model from most financial institutions, where profits are retained by shareholders.
Norstar has distributed a dividend to their members on an annual basis for the last several years, ranging from $20,000 to $50,000. This year, the distribution will be a record amount of $150,000, which will be paid out on December 9, 2021, directly into each members’ savings account.
“Our team realized that many of our members were facing hardships this year, mainly due to the change in their circumstances surrounding the pandemic,” Duerre explained. “Therefore, our board of directors has made the decision to authorize this increased dividend distribution to demonstrate that we are steadfast in our commitment to always do what is best for the members.”
Despite the COVID pandemic that plagued many businesses throughout the past year, Norstar FCU is ending 2021 in a very strong financial position, due in part to increased membership growth, as well as fee income from administrating Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. In addition, Norstar received a Capitol Shares Refund from Members United Corporate Credit Union.
A portion of their profits this year have been donated back to numerous organizations within the community. In fact, in 2021 alone, Norstar FCU’s donations have totaled over $100,000.
“When we make financial contributions to our community, we help to create a stronger local economy, which results in a more robust and thriving place to call home,” stated Duerre.
Timing was most definitely on this credit union’s side as the COVID pandemic struck. Norstar FCU had just moved into their new building in December 2019, prior to the outbreak. With two lanes for drive-up, an easily accessible ATM and a secure night drop, members could continue to safely do business. The credit union also added remote deposit capture and electronic signature capabilities to their services, which allowed them to continue to conduct financial transactions seamlessly.
The vacated space that was left behind when Norstar moved to their new location was not empty for long. The Marshall County clinic in town had an immediate need for additional space due to the pandemic, and a deal was quickly made for the clinic to set up shop in the old credit union space, helping medical staff to continue to serve the increasing demands for healthcare in their community.
Credit unions are also committed to “financial well-being for all,” supporting financial education at schools and for adults. Norstar FCU has made an impact by sponsoring a recent assembly at Britton High School, focused on the importance of financial literacy. The credit union also awards three financial assistance scholarships each year to high school and college students and plans to expand the number of awards in 2022.
While Norstar FCU continues to make a difference in their community, there are still many challenges that all credit unions face. One of those challenges is the misconception of what a credit union is, and who can join. Efforts are ongoing across the industry to increase awareness that credit unions are full service financial cooperatives, and there is a credit union for everyone.
Additional challenges are always being met in areas of compliance and new regulations. For these important issues, Norstar FCU is a member of the Dakota Credit Union Association. Serving credit unions across the Dakotas, the association has experts in compliance, advocacy, marketing, technology, and education on staff.
Norstar FCU has grown into a successful $60 million credit union with nine employees, offering a full range of services including checking, savings, debit and credit cards, and all types of loans including new and used auto loans, AG, and mortgage loans. Those who live, work or worship in Marshall, Day, or Brown counties in South Dakota or Sargent County in North Dakota, you are eligible for membership.
Truly representing the best of “People Helping People” philosophy, the photos below show highlights of their more than $100,000 in donations over the past year.
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