Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: charity (page 1 of 2)

A Mission You Can Bank On

Originally published on

A recent post, Giving Back Has ROI, Too, linked your charitable efforts with your growth strategy. You can do the most for all parties when your “good” aligns with your mission. It keeps everyone more engaged, provides the best opportunities for cross-promotion, and clearly defines your purpose in the community.

Already well-aligned with the areas of community you support? That’s great! You can go even further.

Your product lineup is boring. It’s the same as every other credit union and bank. Checking, savings, lending, and maybe investments. On their own, these provide no differentiation or excitement. However, what if you designed these offerings to directly benefit those you help? A successful strategy can help gain new (profitable) members while making a difference beyond contributions.

A previous post dove into this concept with two interviews. One was of a credit union in California, CCCU. The other, Vancity, out of Canada. Both integrated their giving into their products. The former supported local students with scholarships, using funding from interchange fees. The latter donated a portion of their profits from their credit cards. Both times, members have a direct hand in the positive impacts of their credit union. In fact, if not for the members’ actions, these contributions would never have occurred.

Here’s another way to integrate closely with your core mission. A credit union local to me, Grow Financial, uses a leaf as their logo. This was not a random choice by the board. It was selected for two reasons (of which I’ve learned). The first you’d expect: I want my money somewhere it can “Grow”, and leaves are a tangible symbol of growth. The second is for their environmental focus. Grow’s headquarters is LEED certified (uses less resources to run, built with local materials, maintains high indoor air quality, etc.). They support environmental charities. Being “green” is who they are.

How about you? What’s your raison d’etre? Now it’s time to brainstorm how you can merge that into your “boring” banking solutions. Maybe that means working with one in your community (or a variety if serving large areas). Maybe that means starting your own! Besides making a positive impact, it can rally existing members and attract new ones!

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Giving Back Has ROI, Too

Originally published on

Does your credit union give back? That’s a silly question. But does your community support program intricately tie in with member engagement?

A friend of mine used to work for the local chapter of the American Heart Association. After a few years there, she started her own company. It brings non-profits together with companies whose mission aligned with theirs. Essentially, she is a charity to corporate matchmaker.

At first glance, this seems pretty simple. Find company with money (usually through a foundation), bring together with non-profit which needs money. Now pay me a small consultant fee. Not so fast. It turns out, companies started looking at their give back campaigns differently. Instead of just “doing a good thing”, they wanted said good thing to do more. If we’re spending money, the thought process goes, why not have it improve employee satisfaction? Or serve as cause-based marketing to our current and prospective clientele? And charities began to have the same thoughts.

Just as two random single people are not necessarily a good match, the same goes between companies and charities. My friend learns about the core mission and motivations of every client before recommending a pairing. That way, everyone is more engaged, supportive, and excited about the alignment.

Take your credit union. Say you offer a need-based mortgage assistance program. Partnering with a pet rescue charity is fine. Woof. Meow. But imagine if you aligned with a non-profit which helps place struggling and displaced families into low-cost and subsidized housing? Their mission and that of your credit union are the same. You’re a match. And it shows with staff who are excited to volunteer and talk about it to their members (who are then encouraged to help where they can). Heck, some of those members might even be beneficiaries of the charity. Think of the legen-wait for it-dary social media campaign you could set up. So much good can be done for so many, and your credit union can grow in the process. I think it’s safe to say all the families helped by the charity would become members of your credit union. And based on how you treat them like family, they’re not likely to leave. In fact, they’ll probably tell their friends and family about you.

When you get out of the daily grind and remember why you exist, these types of alliances seem so obvious. And it can give your entire team the motivation to serve at their peak abilities. Giving back really does have an ROI.

Since this post is already too long, a future one will dive into some stories of credit unions following this path. Spoiler: Their staff and members love it. So does the bottom line.

#GivingTuesday & Our Ironic Order

Us Americans are an odd bunch. On the last Thursday of November, we gather with friends and family to celebrate what we have. Then, not hours later, we mow down anyone between us and that incredible deal for a vacuum cleaner, because, Black Friday! The next day, we look to our community and encourage support of local entrepreneurs for #SmallBusinessSaturday. Ironically, this event is backed by one of the largest credit card companies, American Express. Then we take a day off. Because everyone needs to rest sometime.

On Cyber Monday, we’re at it again, but too tired to actually get up. So this deal rush is done with our nimble fingers upon phones, tablets, and computers (you still have one of those archaic things?).

By this point, everyone is broke. Or, you will be when that credit card statement arrives. Have you even started your holiday gift searching?

Finally, after this binge of spending has finished, we remember our non-profits. Today is #GivingTuesday. The day where every non-profit you’ve ever been involved with contacts you with a touching story. With just a small donation, you can make a world of difference! Every one is deserving of the contribution. From my alma mater to local charities, I am touched by each of their successes, plans, and goals.

But do we really care about these causes, or is it all a massive, self-induced, guilt trip? Have our days of unrestricted spending taken their toll? Instead of #GivingTuesday, would it be more appropriate to call it #FeelGoodTuesday?

If people cared as much as we hoped, Black Friday would be dedicated to volunteer efforts, not shopping madness. Small Business Saturday would seek to connect local for-profits with community charities. You’re not only enjoying an amazing pastry, you’re helping kids with developmental challenges. Cyber Monday…yeah, you’d be at work shopping online. A recent article claimed 40% of employees admit to spending more than an hour doing just that in December. I guess the other 60% won’t admit it. Since it’s doubtful you can stop it…just don’t neglect your responsibilities!

How do credit unions fit in amongst all this holiday craziness? Your credit union is a fellow non-profit, with the power to connect individuals, for-profits, and other charities. Engage your charitable giving team, your marketing staff, and members to revolutionize how we think of #GivingTuesday (and donations in general)! Instead of focusing on the same day as everyone else (today), connect your efforts to the spirit of the holidays, even before Thanksgiving! A number of people vow to spend nothing on Black Friday; these are the exact individuals who can be the springboard for a new giving initiative!

Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to promote something other than the best rates in town?

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