A Cooperative Foundation

This week, CreditUnions.com looks at strategies to fund charitable causes, expand philanthropic missions, and support community causes.

As part of the cooperative core, credit unions have a philanthropic bent. Now, more of them are launching their own foundations to fund charitable causes.

Foundations allow credit unions to expand their philanthropic mission while giving members a tax-deductible vehicle for donating funds to the community. However, the potential for such endeavors to becomes both a distraction and a drain on the credit union’s resources is real.

To fund foundations, credit unions follow one of two paths. To learn more about these paths, including the pros and cons of each, read Turning On The Foundation-Funding Spigot by Callahan contributor Catherine Siskos.

Mazuma Credit Union’s new foundation is preparing to offer its first round of grants to local organizations and community groups of Kansas City. The foundation began operating in January, and Mazuma is contributing 5% of its net income to the foundation every year. To learn more about the foundation, including how it supplements Mazuma’s community service volunteerism, read Fired Up About Philanthropy by Callahan senior writer and editor Marc Rapport.

TopLine Federal Credit Union celebrates its 80thanniversary in 2015, and in April of this year, the community-chartered institution started theTopLine Credit Union Foundation, a 501(c)(3) affiliate of the credit union, to expand and formalize the community outreach efforts.

The intent behind the foundation is to allow us to continue to support the cooperative spirit of people helping people by living out our manta: to care, connect, and contribute, says Vicki Erickson, vice president of marketing at the credit union and the president of TopLine Foundation. In How To Build A Better Tomorrow by Callahan writer Erik Payne, TopLine shares lessons learned and best practices for building a 501(c)(3) affiliate.

Having adequate funding for a foundation is so pivotal that it’s easy to overlook another requirement structure. Credit union foundations exist to advance charitable goals that the cooperative can’t do justice to while serving in its primary role of community lender and savings institution.

Those charitable goals become the foundation’s mission, but the credit union must construct a framework to achieve them. That calls for asking some pointed questions: Should the foundation be private or public, and what can credit unions do to ensure their members’ money only gets used for the intended purpose? How does a cooperative get credit for the foundation’s good deeds? Above all, what kind of oversight should the credit union provide? The answers to those questions, addressed in A Framework For Philanthropy by Callahan contributor Catherine Siskos, become the four cornerstones of the foundation’s structure.

Finally, in this week’s Graphic Of The Week, Grant Funding In 2015, Callahan analyst Sam Taft shows that c redit unions received more than $50 million in funding over the past 12 months. But where did it come from? And where is it going?

Happy Reading.

October 13, 2015

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