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Are You Measuring Your Social Impact Effectively?

Giving back is part of a credit union’s credo, but the challenge lies in communicating that effectively with all key stakeholders.

Business and personal loans, financial literacy programs, nonprofit partnerships, volunteer events, and fundraisers nearly every financial institution engages in these activities, but not nearly enough have formalized systems in place to document and share their social impact.

Unfortunately, this is precisely the kind of the information credit unions should have on hand to achieve its goals. Here’s why:

  • The U.S. Treasury needs this data before certifying a credit union as as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).
  • Legislative bodies such as the OCC need it to propose laws that best benefit the industry.
  • Your internal executive-level leadership and board of directors need it in order to track the success of your organizational charter.
  • Internal marketing teams need to know how people engage with programs, both online and offline.

Most of all, your members need it. Your members want to ensure the money they invest is then reinvested back into the community.

To satisfy all stakeholders across all channels, credit unions can adopt a holistic approach to aggregating, quantifying, and communicating the extent of their community involvement.

Here are four best practices for recording and using community impact data:

Prepare Before Certification

A credit union applying for CDFI certification must prove its commitment to community development.Whether it’s dollars donated, member income levels, or employee hours volunteered, there’s no better proof than numbers. Make tracking this information a core component of your organizational assessment approach, prioritize its growth, and keep track of these activities as they happen.

Data Makes The Best Advocacy

Financial institutions face a constantly evolving regulatory environment. Community involvement data not only builds legitimacy within the industry; it forges connections between institutions and lawmakers. Community credit unions can fuel advocacy campaigns by revealing their impact in numbers; breaking down the challenges and opportunities both for legislators and members. Having those numbers on hand also makes it easier to share your impact through social and mobile media.

Involve Directors

Every director wants to know: How are we doing? Community impact data answers that question and more. Data helps leadership see the big picture in terms of investment and member satisfaction. Done well, your reports can create a narrative, shaping community activity and uniting staff and management around the same goals. It’s much simpler to stay motivated or correct your course with detailed analytics.

Use It As A Marketing Development Tool

Your community impact isn’t only your organization’s story; it’s your members’ story too. Data can help build brand loyalty, and launch a direct conversation with supporters. Just as you use members’ survey responses to determine your community strategy, continuous reports especially through social media allow members to see the results of their input and increases transparency across channels.

Equally important to collecting and reporting community impact data is having the right tool to do it with.

An annual report may be necessary, but if it’s your only form of communication with all of your stakeholders, you have missed a great opportunity to build reputation and momentum for your community efforts.When choosing the tool to collect and share this information, make sure that it supports your ongoing social impact story, allows for feedback from members and directors, offers opportunities for social engagement, and shows your involvement at every scalefrom stats like community income growth to the impact stories which are the heart of the credit union mission.

To learn the power of real-time reporting for yourself, try out CafeGive Social’s new Social Impact Profile tool.

This article is sponsored by a recognized solutions provider in the credit union industry. Callahan & Associates does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer, and the views and opinions offered here might not reflect those of Callahan. If you are interested in contributing an article on CreditUnions.com, please contact the Callahan team at ads@creditunions.com or 1-800-446-7453.
July 7, 2014

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