No one need wait: The importance of credit union philanthropy

by: Gigi Hyland

Anne Frank once noted, “How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.”

This quote is particularly relevant this time of year because November 15th is National Philanthropy Day® – a day set aside to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy – and those people and organizations active in the philanthropic community – are making to improve our lives, our communities and our world.  It’s not only an official day, but also a grassroots movement — a movement to increase public interest and awareness of the importance of philanthropy, as well as knowledge on giving, volunteering and engagement at the charitable level so people can practice effective, impactful philanthropy.

For the National Credit Union Foundation, the credit union movement’s national philanthropic arm, National Philanthropy Day® is a day to underscore and celebrate credit unions’ philanthropic work. Think about it. Credit unions generously give, day in and day out, year after year, of their time, talent and treasure to make their members’ lives better and improve their communities.  They do so by donating backpacks at the beginning of the school year, supporting their local Boys and Girls Clubs, donating food to their local food pantry, collecting winter coats, and the list goes on and on and on.

To highlight the day, we’re focusing on how credit unions make a difference by volunteering to support financial education. At the very foundation (pun fully intended) of credit unions’ philanthropy is their commitment to provide financial education to their members. This is credit union DNA! Helping members improve their financial lives is what credit unions are all about.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on how small companies should give to charities. The article focused on the enhanced value of giving one’s time over contributions to make a difference. Here are some key takeaways:

  • “Why not just write a check? Owners can do that, but hands-on, face-to-face involvement can have even more impact, especially if a business can’t afford to make large cash contributions.
    • ‘It’s fine to just write a check, but volunteering and personal involvement provide a greater connection,’ says Russell Hodge, managing partner of philanthropy advisory Hodge Group in Dublin, Ohio.
  • Besides having meaning to an owner and employees, the cause should be related to the business.
  • Experts and entrepreneurs recommend that business owners ask workers for ideas on causes to support, to gain the backing and gratitude of employees. They also suggest that owners stick with organizations in their own backyard, since their efforts will be more visible to customers and employees.”

So how does this great advice relate to credit unions’ volunteerism around financial education? Well, we thought we’d ask our very own cherished National Credit Union Foundation Board to provide examples from their credit unions. Yes, we put them on the spot. But look at some of the examples we received back!

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