Credit Unions have long operated on the “people helping people” philosophy and the seven cooperative principles. As not-for-profit, member-owned, cooperative financial institutions, we exist primarily to serve our members, not make a profit. So, when we combine our core concepts with our business model, we can’t help but show how much credit unions care—and truly, not just about our members and communities, but about our society as a whole.
Except that—and this is a big one—except that the credit union industry has done a less-than-stellar job of convincing the larger public how we differ from the for-profit sector, especially banks who walk with bigger sticks and carry thicker wallets to maintain their market edge. So, credit unions have to get more creative.
With our core concepts as inspiration and our cooperative structure as our backbone, we have only to place our credit union people in the middle of the action to increase visibility and raise awareness. We have to give our movement a voice that is as much visual as it is vocal and illustrate in memorable ways how credit unions are not only different, but how they are committed to giving back.
In the Cornerstone region, we’re elevating the credit union difference to new heights with an initiative called Credit Unions Care (CUs Care); and we have pulled out all the stops, invited our affiliated credit unions to join us, and have designated the funds we raise from this campaign to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in our region.
We kicked things off in June 2015 and the campaign is ongoing. So far, we’ve raised just under $40,000 for CMN with the help of at least 135 credit unions—and counting. We’ve provided credit unions with paper “donation dogs” that their members can buy for $1 each and add their name to a special wall; sold stuffed dogs with the CUs Care logo; held a 10-city CU Ride motorcycle tour delivering stuffed dogs to sick children in CMN hospitals; and conducted a multitude of events and activities for good causes while wearing our vivid red CUs Care T-shirts. I assure you, when large numbers of people dressed in red T-shirts enter any space, they make a memorable impact.
Day by day, our CUs Care campaign is helping us show what a real financial partner looks like. Our investment in these activities gets credit unions noticed for their good work, and that garners support and appreciation from all corners of the communities we serve, including the media locally, around the region, and even nationally.
And we’re not done yet—not by a long shot.
So when you consider the ways you can boost awareness about the credit union difference, consider beefing up your physical presence. I challenge you to find ways your credit unions can make a greater impact by getting more than vocal—by getting visual, and doing what you can in your communities to prove that Credit Unions Care isn’t just a campaign slogan. It’s the commitment that every credit union makes to its members.