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September 9 is “Miracle Jeans Day” in the credit union industry as institutions and their employees participate in a variety of ways to raise donations for the movement’s charity of choice, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

In addition to this annual Credit Unions for Kids event, another fundraising opportunity arrives on October 15 with “Shop for Miracles,” held in conjunction with International Credit Union Day. Since 2008, credit unions engaged in Credit Unions for Kids fundraisers have been able to maximize the dollars raised for CMN Hospitals through Miracle Match by CO-OP, a $1 million per year matching funds program managed by CO-OP Financial Services on behalf of its client credit unions.

A white paper published in January 2015 on “Best Practices: Public Relations for Credit Unions” found that the best practice of all was community involvement (see pages seven and eight). Indeed, philanthropy can be a powerful tool for credit unions to help rally employees, support the institution’s core values and establish reach within local communities.

A program’s success is often closely tied to how widely it is embraced throughout an organization and particularly by its leaders. A recent Boston Globe article pointed out that the best way to get employees excited about giving back is having the CEO and other executives fully engaged.

Corporate giving in the United States in 2014 increased to $17.77 billion – a 13.7% increase from 2013, according to the National Philanthropic Trust. Workplace giving continues to evolve, however, and there is a shift from an emphasis on procedure and duty (“I gave at the office”) to real storytelling and impact. Participation and sharing the experience, whether it’s via volunteering or some other kind of interaction, is an increasingly important part of the corporate giving process.

According to the America’s Charities Snapshot 2014 Report on Corporate Giving, companies can help support charities by simply facilitating greater information sharing through the use of their internal peer-to-peer networks and communication channels.

Miracle Jeans Day lends itself perfectly to the new trend of individual employee involvement – at all levels – in an organization’s philanthropic endeavors. And, this crucial component recalls an old credit union adage. What was it? Yes – People Helping People.