In today’s increasingly purpose-driven world, consumers are looking to do business with organizations that share their values and make a positive impact on the community. For credit unions, which have a long history of social responsibility and member focus, this presents a unique opportunity to differentiate themselves from traditional banks and attract new members. One way credit unions can demonstrate their commitment to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) or CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) goals is by creating an annual Impact Report.
The ‘whys’ behind creating an impact report
Credit unions, as community-centric entities, inherently possess impactful stories and data worth sharing. The benefits of crafting an Impact Report are myriad. They track progress toward ESG or CSR goals, validate initiative effectiveness, and guide future strategies, ensuring tangible, positive change.
Impact reports are powerful marketing tools, fostering deeper connections with members and fortifying relationships. By spotlighting the credit union’s positive contributions, these reports bolster loyalty, advocacy, and even the recruitment of new members.
Understanding the essence of an impact report
Impact reports have long been a vital tool for nonprofit organizations to effectively convey their successes and progress to supporters—and reiterate their brand identity. Impact reports serve as dynamic showcases of achievements and missions. These reports artfully blend design, storytelling, imagery, and data to leave a lasting impression. Beyond nonprofits, modern businesses harness these reports to engage consumers, align values, and nurture brand loyalty.
The beauty of an Impact Report lies in its uniqueness to each credit union. Don’t worry if you haven’t formally gathered data throughout the year. Damian Pidgeon of Bank of Ireland aptly puts it, “What are the things that you have an impact on, how are you measuring the impact, and what is your target for making that impact better?” You can leverage this information to start the conversation amongst your credit union peers to set ambitious future goals.
Whether your credit union creates a one-page infographic or a multi-paged report with metrics and narrative, getting started is easy by following these steps:
- Identify your goals. What are you hoping to achieve with your ESG or CSR initiatives? Once you know your goals, you can start to track the metrics that matter.
Tip: If your credit union hasn’t formalized your initiatives, don’t worry. There is plenty of existing data to start with, and future desired metrics can become clearer through the process of documentation.
- Collect data. This could include quantitative data, such as the number of volunteer hours or the amount of money donated to charitable organizations, as well as qualitative data, such as member testimonials or stories of how your initiatives have made a difference.
Tip: Your member-owners are also creating data. Think of the various ways to incorporate their impact and engage them in the creation of future credit union impact.
- Tell your story. Don’t just list data points; use storytelling to bring your Impact Report to life. Share the faces and stories of the people who have been impacted by your work.
- Get your members involved. Your members are a valuable resource – and owners of your credit union. Ask them for their input on your ESG or CSR goals and initiatives. You should involve them in telling your credit union impact story by sharing their own experiences.
Examples of noteworthy impact reports
Impact infographic reports can be just as effective:
Tell stories of members: Impact in action
Each member’s engagement in the community weaves a compelling narrative of the credit union’s impact. Your members are partnering with you in their everyday financial decisions, and you partner with them in their philanthropic activities. Maybe you hosted a shred event benefiting a local nonprofit, and welcomed your community into the credit union. Perhaps you brought together organizations from across your region, and invited members to learn more about the services provided throughout the community. If your credit union ran a donation matching campaign, you already have access to extremely valuable data – both qualitative and quantitative – by empowering members to contribute to local causes. Through this initiative, members saw donations amplify, doubling the impact of their generosity and fostering a sense of collective community support. Use both cumulative and individual stories of your membership to ground your impact report in the credit union mission of People Helping People.
Showcase accomplishments: Bringing impact to life
Members seek to understand the lives changed and the tangible results of their credit union’s endeavors. Afterall, it is their money activated in the community. Accomplishments such as providing shelter, supporting financial literacy school programs, feeding families offer critical metrics. These achievements resonate deeper when coupled with real stories of transformation.Consider the credit union’s partnerships with organizations. By sharing the story of how the credit union provided shelter and a pathway for financial independence and stability, the Impact Report comes alive. It’s personal narratives of resilience and positive change that encapsulate the credit union’s true impact.
Ready for the challenge?
As we usher in the new year, reflecting on the transformative power of 2023 provides a solid foundation for credit unions to document their profound impact. By formalizing these contributions, teams, members, and communities can collectively embark on a journey of shared objectives.
Additional tips for crafting your impact report:
- Embrace clear and concise writing.
- Infuse visual appeal into your report.
- Ensure accessibility for all, including those with disabilities.
Promote the report across various channels, including your website and social media.