Changing everything at VancityAnnouncing Vancity's Change Everything: an online community conversation on change

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Think "financial institution", and you likely think of pinstripes, vaults and armed guards. Oh, and a powerful, deep-seated aversion to change.

So it'll probably startle a lot of people to see the latest project from Vancity, Canada's largest credit union. is an online community targeted (but not limited) to residents of Vancouver, Victoria and B.C.'s Lower Mainland. We spent the past few months building it, and launched a few days ago.

Here's how it works: Once you register, you can begin listing changes you'd like to make: as personal as changing your hairstyle or getting your bike out of storage, or as broad a global transformation as you can imagine.

Then you start blogging about your progress toward making that change. But the real substance of the site happens when someone comes across your change and gets inspired; they can join it. Now both of you are blogging, discussing, and potentially collaborating on making the change happen.

This is one of those cases where building the site is only half the battle; you have to work ceaselessly to foster a thriving online community. Fortunately, Vancity has hired a terrific moderator for, Kate Dugas. And we'll be working closely with Kate and Vancity in the months to come to ensure the site's underlying functions and design give the community it needs to take root, grow and, yes, change.

The feedback we're receiving, even in these early days, is wonderful. The blog OpenSourceCU (home, by the way, of the best list of credit union blogs you'll find anywhere) calls "the best example of any financial institution successfully using the social web (blogging, user-generated content, building a true online community). Wells Fargo should be taking notes along with every credit union with a culture open enough to participate in social media with their members."

We're also getting some constructive suggestions from folks like Darren Barefoot, Vancouver's leading blogger and the one-half of the tech PR duo Capulet Communications.

In a blog post where he compliments the design (thanks!) and advises some changes to make the information architecture easier to understand, he says, "Also credit Vancity for a taking a big risk on this project, which really has nothing to do with them besides their brand in the banner." Agreed.

We'd love to see you at As OpenSourceCU says, "You must visit the site and see for yourself.It’s exactly how the brand of a 'credit union' is supposed to be represented. Efforts like this can change the entire industry/movement/whatever-you-care-to-call-it."


Joseph Thornley says

July 29, 2006 - 8:46am
Hi Rob, Congratulations on It's a great example of the smart application of social media to marketing. I tried to reach it from the Vancity homepage, but I could not find a link. Did I miss it?

Alexandra Samuel says

August 1, 2006 - 10:30am

From the blog Bankwatch:

This is the first effort in financial services that can call itself a genuine blog/ social network. Top marks to VanCity for this effort, and one to watch. If you find yourself looking at this, and wondering, why are they doing this, just stand back and watch it grow, and learn from this.

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