That adage is attributed to St. Francis. It is one of my favorites, as it reminds us that we can say anything we like, but it is our actions that tell our true story and make a real difference.
We have the same opportunity to preach the “credit union gospel” in our communities with our actions. The benefits of doing so positively impacts our employees, members and the broader community. Employees report that they “get” more from these opportunities than they “give” – making them feel good about their job and their employer. Credit unions benefit from positive association with the cause. And, obviously, the community benefits from the credit union’s support.
Many credit unions already encourage its employees to support causes, either individually or those selected by the credit union. Some other ways credit unions can support their communities beyond what is traditionally done include:
Publicity – Your credit union is a huge publicity machine. You can put that machine to use to support a community organization or cause. At minimal cost, you can promote the cause on social media, your website, on your IVR system, and in branches. This promotion may be exactly what your local organization needs to break through to the next level.
Foundations – Many credit unions have launched non-profit foundations. When structured as 501(c)(3) organizations, these foundations provide benefits with both inflows and outflows. Supporters can make contributions to the foundation and benefit with a tax deduction, all while doing good. When deploying funds into communities, funds can be coupled with your lending products to provide lending solutions that you otherwise may not be able to provide. I’ve seen some very creative combinations in all areas of lending – consumer, mortgage and commercial.
Participation in city government – While many credit unions are active in their local chambers, they can broaden their reach – and impact – by participating in city government. Opportunities include volunteering (e.g. adopt-a-highway), serving on a commission (such as planning commission), or running for city council.
Preaching the “credit union gospel” through our actions benefits so many, both inside and outside the credit union. I encourage you to continue preaching the credit union gospel. And, if you have found unique ways to support your community, I’d love to hear about them and what they’ve done for you and your community.