Though credit unions are not charitable organizations, community giving is one of the things that defines us: We are of and for our communities. In this season of giving, raising money for charity, participating in community events, and serving our membership through various philanthropic efforts can bring huge emotional and spiritual benefits. But can credit unions make their community giving efforts even more meaningful? Gigi Hyland, executive director of the National Credit Union Foundation, thinks so. In an evolution session presentation at THINK 14, Hyland urged credit unions to practice strategic philanthropy to amplify the benefits and impact of their good work. How do you use community giving to build community?
  1. Find partners. Beyond writing checks and raising money, can your credit union work with local government agencies, food banks, farmer’s markets or community groups to promote financial well being?
  2. Think strategically. “Link your philanthropic efforts with what you do as a credit union,” Hyland suggests. As an example, NCUF is partnering with Credit Unions for Kids to make Biz Kid$ programs available to kids at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
  3. Take the lead. Does your community need new ways to learn about financial planning, building credit or saving for retirement? Host a reality fair or retirement fair. Offer real financial education in your branches and on your website, so you become a resource for your community.
Your community involvement should say a great deal about the character of your organization. And if giving back to the community really is part and parcel of the credit union mission, everyone should know it. By building partnerships and looking for ways to build meaning into your charitable efforts, you create and tell stories that resonate. And that’s good. When you have an inspiring story to tell, you should turn up the volume.