First Look: Verity CU’s New Blog

Seattle’s Verity CU, the first financial institution in the world with an external company blog, is replacing its aging Blogger version, in use since the December 2004 launch.

Verity posted a clever “farewell” in its old blog on May 11 (see screenshot below) and promised a link to the new version “soon.” A week later, the new blog is live, and you’ll want to take a look at it <> (screenshot below).   

Link to Trabian The new site is pleasing to look at, easy to follow, and state-of-the-art in just about every way, exactly what you’d expect from Trabian, the red-hot social media design firm. I especially like the middle column which showcases  recent blog postings by department: marketing, member services, executive, HR, IT, accounting, and business services. It helps expose more great posts, while demonstrating to members that the blog is a true company-wide effort. Each department’s posts can also be accessed through the Categories area in the lower-right.

I give it the first A+ of the year. Excellent work!


New Verity CU blog


Verity CU old blog

Trabian’s “Give With Us” is a Cost-effective Way to Start a Blog AND Make a Difference

When's the last time you saw a new Web app that:

  1. Was good for your brand
  2. Was useful for your customers/members
  3. Gave your employees a voice 
  4. Helped your community
  5. Had zero IT support cost
  6. Allowed you to begin blogging with virtually none of the risks of a typical blog
  7. Caused non-customers to bookmark your site and/or subscribe to its feed
  8. Prompted the local press to write glowing reviews
  9. Put your name in front of community organizations, and their well-connected board members
  10. And was affordable?

Take a look at the Web-based volunteer clearinghouse originally conceived by CU thinktank Filene Research Institute. The application is being commercialized as Give With Us by Trabian, a Dallas-based design firm that built Filene's prototype called My Community Connection (see note 1). 

You can see the original Filene version in production at SELCO Community Credit Union <>, where 77 volunteer opportunities have been posted since its launch less than six months ago (see note 2). The revamped, and much more Web 2.0-looking, version from Trabian will be housed at the cleverly named <>. The online product tour is not yet available, but we have the world premier exclusive screenshot below, courtesy of Trey Reeme of Trabian.

How it works
The application is basically a blog where anyone can post volunteer opportunities. Readers can take action by clicking a button to either:

  • Sign up
  • Email a friend
  • Leave a comment

Unlike other community websites that are bookmarked once then forgotten, users can sign up for a feed so that new opportunities continue to flow to their feedreader or browser. Hopefully, they'll add an email subscription option for the majority of users who are not yet using feeds.

The cost is $2,500 upfront plus $1,000 annually for the license. I don't need to tell you what a bargain that is. You get state-of-the-art blog design and functionality for the price of a Yellow Pages' ad.

You will need to assign a staff member to moderate the blog, clearing postings and comments for final publication. Assuming two posts and a couple comments each week, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes a day. But it needs constant attention, you can't have the moderator on vacation for a week with no substitute.

The biggest problem will be attention, or rather lack of it. How do you get overworked volunteers and nonprofit staffers to take time to post volunteer opportunities? Even harder, how do you get the community to remember to look at your blog when they are in a volunteering mood?

SELCO has a link on its homepage <>, but how do you reach out to the larger community to make this relevant? The SELCO website has 77 volunteer postings, but only 3 comments in the past 6 months. That suggests it's relatively lightly used by those donating their time. 

But any new offering takes time to get rolling. It's not unrealistic that you could end up being THE place in your market where volunteer opportunities are publicized. But that will take more effort than just posting it on your homepage.

For example, searching for "volunteers in Eugene," SELCO's home market, doesn't bring up the CU's site until result number 160, far too low for anyone to notice (see note 2). Selco should consider using Google AdSense to get its program listed in search results. With no other bidders, it'll only take a dime or so to get the number-one listing.

Another way to receive more attention would be integrating the volunteer opportunities with fund-raising services. For example, a financial institution could create a "donate here" button for the organization's website that instantly deposits donated funds into the nonprofit's checking account. 


  1. Trabian is a specialist in Web 2.0 design and so-called "social media." The company also built Filene's website along with several interesting credit union sites; refer to its website for a client listing. SELCO Credit Union's My Community Connection CLICK TO ENLARGETrabian also runs the OpenSourceCU blog tracking, which tracks blogs and other social media in the credit union market.   
  2. Click on the screenshot at right to see the front page of SELCO's My Community Connection site.
  3. The number-one result is a competing site,
    which lists 98 opportunities in a tabular format.

New Twist on Financial Institutions Blogging, Messages from the Credit Union Board

Here's a blogging application we didn't consider in our recent report, Online Banking Report's Bank 2.0: Blogs and Feeds (here), a credit union board of directors creating a blog to communicate with the full membership.

The blog, which launched Jan 1, is called The Boardcast  <> and is written by the board of directors at UFirst Credit Union <>. Board VP Virginia Brady is said to be the moderator. However, most postings sound like they've been authored by someone within the credit union. That's fine, but it should be clear to readers whether a post comes from a boardmember or a credit union employee. 

UFirst publicizes the blog in two places on its homepage (see screenshot below):

Ufirst Federal Credit Union publicizes the board's blog on its homepage (25 Jan 2007) CLICK TO ENLARGE

Blogs are a good way for volunteer boards at non-profits to communicate with the full membership. They are inexpensive, timely, and promote two-way communication. In fact, we believe nearly every company and organization will eventually have one. However, they are not without risks and headaches; for example, here are a few issues that must be dealt with:

  • risk of generating pubic controversy for the board member(s) writers
  • the time commitment necessary to post at least weekly so the blog remains relevant
  • making sure the board and management are on the same page before making the post
  • monitoring and responding to comments
  • conflicts of interest with the board member's day job or business

Thanks to OpenSourceCU for the first post on this new blog (link here).