As credit unions, we operate to promote the well-being of our members. But, for many credit union members, COVID-19 has brought unexpected personal and financial losses. The invisibility of the virus seems to underscore our lack of control.
Many credit unions have risen to the challenge of these worry-filled days by offering finely tailored products and services to help consumers and businesses survive, and dare I say, thrive. However, it’s also important to remember the importance of taking social responsibility, which has always been the hallmark of the credit union difference. Not only can we rise to the occasion by giving back as organizations, but, in the true spirit of member ownership, now is a great time to empower our members by giving them the power to help as well, to wear the cape and to contribute to the community directly. Here’s how.
Choose Charities They Care About
Food, clothing and shelter are always strong choices to put up front. A statewide food bank has the benefit of serving a large area and therefore being relevant for a majority. Many communities host “Giving Tuesday” or have a nonprofit center where you can learn which charities are most highly donated to. It is easy to also compare social media followings of different agencies within your area. You might find your local SPCA is a priority within a particular member base.
Make It Easy
Your online banking platform is a great way to get in front of members. Grab their attention as they check their balances by placing a message to donate to your COVID-19 efforts. You can even create a simple survey to allow them to pick their charity of choice to donate to, or identify charities of their own. You may choose to create a landing page with a payment system such as PayPal or Stripe behind it, or have the contribution come directly from their account.
If monetary donations are not possible, create opportunities for members to give back with their time. In lieu of physical fundraisers, many nonprofits have switched to a virtual platform for their events. For example, the American Heart Association recently hosted a Virtual Heart Walk, and the March of Dimes transformed its signature March for Babies walk series into a virtual program in which supporters could march in their homes and track their progress. Even something simple such as signing a virtual card for our troops is a quick action a member can take that will have a big impact on other people.
Herald Their Impact
While digital communications are great for keeping us connected with updates on branch hours and COVID 19 related safeguards, they should also be used to deliver a social impact report usually reserved for the Board of Directors. Newsletters, emails and press releases that share the contributions a membership was able to generate will be a source of pride for all the members, whether they made a donation themselves or not.
Besides learning to keep an arsenal of toilet paper in our basements, I like to think we will gain valuable knowledge from 2020. These types of efforts can be used for any holiday drive or unfortunate local challenge that arises in the future. Making the membership an active part of community giving in general empowers the credit union to have an even bigger impact financially, while also celebrating the members’ true role as owners.