You see them everywhere you turn this time of year.
Social media posts rife with credit unions ringing bells, presenting checks, and sharing good cheer with the community. Nearly one third of annual giving happens in December; the air is full of holiday spirit, we’re all reminded of the ghosts of past, present and yet-to-come, and we feel a closeness to our fellow-persons.
The turkey comes out of the oven and we remember to give back to those around us, we know that not everybody shares the same warmth and comforts that we might be fortunate to have. There is an urgency we feel, to support our nonprofits, an urgency that ramps up as we head into a new year. 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year! This may sound a little like last-minute holiday shopping, quickly squeezing in a little more kindness before a new year begins.
Credit unions really shine in this moment, because it’s what we’re built to do – support the community.
The stories are plentiful, and valued, but amongst all the excitement, it should be said that there is no requirement to reserve giving until the very end of a year. While it is a thrill, this rush creates pressure on our nonprofits, it causes an air of uncertainty of what’s to come, and requires an increased focus on fundraising while still trying intently to live out the mission. Healthy nonprofits, like each of us, thrive best when there is a steady system of support.
Reliability and security are very important for providing the same reliability and security to the communities a charity serves. End of year giving provides a great opportunity for humble-bragging. Yes, this is important. However, humble-bragging, cause marketing, or whatever you want to call your stories of good cheer, need not be stifled to finally be released in the final month (or week) of the year. Sustained giving actually behooves a credit union, and it is worth creating a year-round story of the good you do in your community, for you and for the comfort and support of the nonprofits with which you partner.
Thrive Credit Union in Indiana provides us with a beautiful example of how to build – and sustain – a multi-pronged nonprofit partnership that brings benefit to the credit union, their partner charity and their community. Hillcroft Services is a 70-year old nonprofit providing support and services for people with disabilities and their families. The genesis moment of collaboration came 5 years ago, from a simple and creative idea.
With the opening of a new Thrive branch came the opportunity to host outdoor events, including the first “member marketplace”. Members were invited to showcase to fellow members and the wider community their small businesses and side-projects. It was an opportunity to network, sell, and self-promote. Thrive extended an invitation to Hillcroft Services, inviting their clients with disabilities to also showcase and sell the arts & crafts created through their programs. With each sale, 60% goes directly to the client, and 40% buys the supplies needed to create even more crafts, wreaths, and paintings. This opportunity for Hillcroft clients to be engaged with the Thrive community was just the beginning of a deep and sustained relationship that has continued to grow as well as pivot, particularly in the past two years.
“We actually have quite a few Hillcroft clients that are members of ours,” said Brittani Richards, VP of Marketing and Branch Operations. “They come in weekly, and interact with our employees, they come in with their checks from Hillcroft and deposit them into their accounts.” The value goes even deeper, and it goes both ways. “Something that I’ve noticed is, I get to know their clients now… they remember you and it’s almost like they put a face to that feeling they get when they got something really cool from the credit union.” This is the feeling a credit union aims to inspire in all members, and a warming reminder of the value a credit union brings to the community.
“Well, it’s kind of interesting that the name of their organization is Thrive,” says Dan Wolfert, VP of Development and Marketing at Hillcroft Services. “That’s one of the things that really has helped our clients, being able to thrive out in the community.” Hillcroft’s core values involve supporting their clients with living, with jobs, and with independence, and getting to know the charity and its mission helps build a stronger partnership between the two organizations.
From financial literacy to account openings, Richards says “when we kind of get to know their [Hillcroft’s] clients and know their likes, and their interests, we are able to provide some new unique ways to serve them.
Both organizations find value in the shared brand recognition they receive from their partnership, and the relationship will continue to grow. Brittani at Thrive is already thinking about the future and planning for 2021. “I know for a fact that Hillcroft is a part of my planning for community outreach,” she said. “What started out with this little idea for an event turned into this big partnership. And it opened up our eyes, to see this huge need in our community, to see these amazing people that not only work at Hillcroft, but are clients at Hillcroft.
So, when thinking about your community engagement, about snapping that next photo of good cheer and charity, think about your credit union story for the entirety of 2022. Imagine what an ongoing partnership with a community organization can do for your credit union – from awareness to fiscal education to social responsibility to staff education. Your credit union can make a big impact all year round, and that’s what a credit union does – serves the underserved. Not just the last 3 days of the year.
Listen to the full interview – On a Mission to Thrive