Credit Unions Pay It Forward In More Ways Than One

Learn how four credit unions are making a major impact on their communities, from small everyday acts throughout the year to large-scale volunteer events.

The credit union philosophy of people helping people can be witnessed daily in communities everywhere. As credit union leaders, members, and advocates pause and reflect during this Thanksgiving season, Callahan & Associates and wanted to share just a few of the many examples of credit unions paying it forward.

Leave a comment below to share how YOUR credit union is paying it forward.

Pay It Forward Day

Suncoast Credit Union ($6.6B, Tampa, FL) held its second annual companywide day of employee volunteerism, known as Pay It Forward Day, on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. A total of 851 employees, family members, and friends volunteered at 45 nonpro?t organizations across the 17 counties that Suncoast serves. Volunteers contributed 1,140 hours valued by the credit union at $24,635.40.

Taking the time on a Saturday to be out in our communities was a reminder of the tremendous power of giving, says Susan Johnson, chief operating of?cer at Suncoast Credit Union. Our mission is to improve lives, and expanding the impact of the organizations that are vital to our communities is one of many ways we achieve that.

Employees chose where they wanted to give their time, and because the credit union doesn’t have Saturday hours, staffing branches simultaneously was not an issue.

The credit union encouraged participants to further the reach of their efforts by posting on social media and automatically entered employees who posted on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #SuncoastGivesBack into a drawing to win $500 for the nonpro?t organization of their choice.

Our plan is to continue this annual event in future years, says Patti Barrow, vice president of marketing for Suncoast Credit Union. It’s a bit too soon to discuss changes for 2016, but we do plan to work more closely with the non-profits to engage their social media outlets as well as our own.

Check out this full list of organizations impacted on Pay It Forward Day.

Free Gas Friday

A group of 26 credit unions in the East Tennessee Credit Union Coalition held Free Gas Friday giveaways at five different locations on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. The credit unions announced they would be giving away $25 worth of gas to 100 people at locations to be disclosed at precisely 10:45 am on the radio.

At the gas stations, credit union representatives passed out flyers with information about where to find a credit union and a coupon to waive the membership fee if the free gas recipients chose to open an account.

Katy R. Jett, vice president of marketing for Enrichment Federal Credit Union ($415.2M, Oak Ridge, TN) shared several highlights of the Knoxville-area giveaway:

Ten minutes after the announcement, the first car arrived. The wife said she had never won anything and her husband had just been laid off and was looking for another job. They were not credit union members but were excited to hear about how they could join.

One of the ladies in line delivered meals for Mobile Meals. She told us she was going to take the $25 she would have spent on gas that day and donate it to Mobile Meals to help feed Thanksgiving dinners to shut-ins. She was trying to figure out how to fit a donation in her budget, and this was an answered prayer.

It was great to give back to the community and see how we can make a difference, even if only a small one, in the lives of people.

7 Ways To Win

To celebrate International Credit Union Day this year, Abri Credit Union ($312.8M, Romeoville, IL) sponsored a 7 Ways to Win promotion that underscored how credit unions are people helping people. The credit union offered seven $100 Visa Gift Cards for members to win in a drawing. For entry, members had to participate in any or all of the following activities during the week of Oct. 11:

  • Post a comment about why they like credit unions on Abri’s Facebook page.
  • Bring a non-perishable food item to any Abri location for a local food pantry.
  • Take a selfie with an Abri logo and post it on Abri’s Facebook Page or tweet it to @abricreditunion.
  • Email or text the credit union a message or picture showing how they are paying it forward by doing a good deed.
  • Bring something to shred at the Oct. 17 Romeoville Shred Event.
  • Stop by any Abri branch location and tell an Abri employee the secret catch phrase People Helping People.
  • Take part in an online survey.

We had 833 members take part in the drawing to win gift cards, says Kim Nichols, vice president of marketing and training for Abri Credit Union. We also offered a chance for a staff member to win a gift card by telling us how they paid it forward for someone else.

Additionally, we reached out to the charitable organizations in our communities and gave them a chance to win a gift card for their charity by tweeting about Abri, Nichols continues. Social media proved to be a powerful tool; we gained a good deal of exposure to both our members and the community.

What Will You Do?

It doesn’t take a huge promotion, massive volunteer hours, or tons of planning for a credit union to make a major impact on the communities it serves. But it does take heartfelt dedication. And a little help from members doesn’t hurt, either.

Summit Credit Union ($2.3B, Madison, WI) encourages members to pay it forward by giving them $10 and asking them to post on the credit union’s Pay It Forward site how they will use it to help others.

Here are a few comments members have posted.




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