There are many different ways to get value out of our credit union’s investment in MDC. For example, you can access Gartner retail banking research on MDC Connect, and our trusted advisors (also listed on MDC Connect) offer discounts on services like financial education for members (EVERFI), mobile strategy (Xtensifi), and RPA implementation guidance (Baker Tilly). And, of course, attending our owner meetings gives you the best opportunity in the industry to network with other forward-thinking credit union leaders.

But one of the biggest ways to capitalize on your investment is to participate in one of our many pilot programs and take advantage of the large discounts from industry-leading vendors that have already been vetted by your fellow owners.

For example, FIGFCU recently launched a pilot with FICO to produce and maintain a “member score,” which will help them with their lending decisions, marketing efforts, and evaluations of member engagement. By working with FICO as a pilot participant, FIGFCU will save approximately $40,000 in implementation fees and member score processing during their first year of using their new scores! While some pilots like this one did come with a hefty price tag ($25,000), others are extremely affordable. Our pilots with fintechs targeting student loan debt (ChangEd and Peanut Butter), for example, only required a few thousand dollars to join.

Discounts aren’t the only benefits of participating in pilots, though, as they are also a great way to get MDC projects tailored specifically to benefit your own credit union, experiment with new ideas, learn important lessons first hand, build a network of peers with other participating credit unions, and learn from each other’s successes and setbacks. Plus you get the opportunity to present your results as leaders in the CU industry before other owners at our meetings!

To prepare your credit union for participating in pilots, we suggest you make it easy to say “yes” ahead of time by just adding a line item to your budget for research and development with MDC. That way, whenever a pilot opportunity that is just what your credit union has been looking for comes up, you’ll be ready to jump in without wondering where the money will come from. Consider doing this at a department level, so if you’re the Chief Marketing Officer of your credit union and have missed out on piloting a marketing project in the past, this could help make sure that you don’t miss out again.

Now is the time of year when credit unions all over the country are finalizing their budgets for next year. Why not step ahead of the curve and dedicate some funds for MDC pilot projects in 2019 and beyond? With our diverse array of pilot opportunities, just about any amount, large or small, will ensure your credit union moves to the next level by participating in an upcoming pilot.