Credit unions give back to their communities in a variety of ways every single day. But when we come together and aggregate our impact – it sends a powerful message to our employees, members, communities and lawmakers.
On Monday, October 8, 49 Minnesota credit unions and partners participated in a statewide day of kindness. Across the state, the day was dedicated to community service projects and volunteer work impacting over 335,000 people.
I am proud that the Minnesota Credit Union Network coordinates CU Forward Day, held annually on the federal holiday the second Monday in October. This year, Minnesota credit union employees participated in events ranging from building for Habitat for Humanity; preparing meals for homeless youth; outdoor clean up events; free document shred days; hosting a children’s book drive; packing food for Feed My Starving Children; and providing random acts of kindness for community members. In addition to staff time, credit unions donated an estimated $100,000 to community programs and initiatives.
In 2013, Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union hosted their first organization-wide “Plus It Forward Day.” Initially focused on Affinity Plus’ employees dedicating eight hours to volunteerism, the event grew every year. CEO Dave Larson invited other credit unions to join in their effort, and by 2016, Plus It Forward included 25 participating credit unions. In a response to the growing cooperative nature of the event, and the desire of Affinity Plus to perpetuate the idea, in 2017 the Minnesota Credit Union Network began coordinating credit union participation, tracking, and media efforts under the umbrella name CU Forward Day.
Since taking on the program, participation has almost doubled, to 49 participating credit unions and partners in 2018. All participating credit unions are invited to select the giveback opportunity that means the most to their staff and community and brand the day as they see fit. All told, over 1,500 employees volunteered 6,900 hours in one day.
Impact has grown as well. We saw 14 million media impressions as a result of our story pitches and social sharing. Earned media included TV stories, radio interviews, newspaper coverage, and social engagement. One single act of kindness between a credit union employee and a woman in Cambridge, Minnesota, resulted in a Facebook Live post viewed by over 9,200 people. The awareness for credit unions is awesome – but what’s more awe inspiring is how a credit union employee touched this one individual’s life.
The cooperative impact of credit unions is larger than each individual credit union. As not-for-profit financial institutions, credit unions work to improve the financial lives of individuals and communities. CU Forward Day is an opportunity to show our “people helping people” philosophy in action.
I am aware many leagues and credit unions support similar “giveback day” initiatives. As our own grows, my vision for the future would be a national coordinated effort, spearheaded by the league system, to impact all Americans with the credit union difference.