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Written by Cyndie Martini
on July 28, 2016

Another reputation credit unions have is their community involvement and generosity.

Credit unions give back

Take for example Inspirus Credit Union in Seattle. In May, the institution announced it had donated nearly $31,000 to nearby schools in Spokane, Washington, according to Crowdfund Insider.

"We're passionate about education and giving back to the education community," Sherry Lotze, the credit union's vice president of marketing, explained in a statement. "Considering that many of our employees are former school teachers, we understand how difficult it can be for teachers to get the classroom supplies they need. This kind of giveback goes to the heart of our mission."

Inspirus Credit Union isn't the only institution working hard to give back to its community. According to The National Credit Union Foundation, in 2015, credit unions gave the foundation $1.1 million to go toward financial capability efforts. Additionally, credit unions contributed $11 million toward 170 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.

Encouraging members to donate

Across the nation, credit unions are showing their communities they care, and are encouraging their members to do the same. This can create a sense of goodwill throughout the community. Not only will charities and organizations appreciate the kind donations of others, but the donors themselves will likely feel a bond to the organization they helped.

An effective way credit unions can help encourage these relationships is by creating a charitable giving platform. As Payments Leader pointed out, people generally like to be recognized for their donations, and are more likely to give more when they are rewarded or thanked for their generosity.

While recognition can encourage members to do good in or outside of their community, credit unions have the power to offer further incentives to their generous members. For instance, the institution could offer to add a percentage to each charitable donation made through the giving platform, or give customers a percentage back of each donation he or she makes, suggested Payments Leader.

Credit unions benefit from giving

It's clear that the organizations to which credit unions and members give greatly benefit from giving platforms, and members benefit from taking advantage of them. But that doesn't mean credit unions don't prosper from these programs. In fact, offering them can bring a large advantage to a financial institution.

First, many people are willing to actively change their allegiance from one institution or organization to another if they believe in the same causes as the other institution. By supporting local and international charities, credit unions can draw in more like-minded, community-centric members.

By donating to causes on its own or matching contributions made by members, the credit union shows people, whether they are a part of the credit union or not, that they care. This makes for great marketing materials and can help attract more members.

Creating a charitable giving platform also gives the credit union another strategy and method to cross-sell products and services. For instance, the financial institution can entice members to open a new account by incentivizing it with a donation credit for a certain amount that the member can donate however he or she chooses.

Ideally, the platform will become a collaborative effort, taking into consideration suggestions from members and credit union employees alike. It will foster positive feelings about the community and the credit union and will encourage relationships between members, charitable organizations and the financial institution.

One example of this can be seen with Lake Michigan Credit Union, which listened to one woman named Sally Starr, who was on a mission to bring a better playground to children in Holland, Michigan, according to a press release. The credit union was excited about a new opportunity to give back to the community while also reaching out to members and other organizations for help.

"Lake Michigan Credit Union is very excited to spearhead this effort," said Matt Cook, LMCU's assistant vice president of community relations. "When we initially met Sally in Holland, we knew that even as a single citizen, she was committed to making this project happen. And we immediately knew we needed to be a part of it. It has been a delight to see the community and state come together to join forces on this project. I can't wait to see the beach with the playground installed at the end of the summer and celebrate the collaboration that helped make it happen."

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